'They came out flying tonight': Red Wings can't overcome early flop in loss to Lightning

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings again stayed close, but this time couldn’t snatch a victory.

Tampa Bay scored early goals in the first and second periods Sunday and earned a 2-1 victory over the Wings to salvage a split of the weekend series.

Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) is pursued up the ice by Red Wings defenseman Dennis Cholowski (21) during the first period.

In their home finale, the Wings had chances to get back in the game late, but failed to do it.

The Wings had a two-minute, two-man advantage and 3 minutes 50 seconds of consecutive time on the power play in total late in the third period, but failed to capitalize against the Lightning and taxi squad goaltender Christopher Gibson (22 saves).

BOX SCORE: Lightning 2, Red Wings 1

"For sure we would have liked to have more pressure," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We didn't get enough forecheck pressure, and we had some offensive zone time but we have to shoot the puck more. I didn't think we shot the puck enough.

"Tonight, Bernie (goaltender Jonathan Bernier) was good and when we needed our power play to score, it didn't."

The Wings were scoreless on four attempts on the power play, but having all that time with the two-man advantage in the third period — with a chance to tie the game — particularly hurt.

But, also, without injured forwards Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Bobby Ryan, Robby Fabbri and Frans Nielsen, the lack of offensive firepower is beginning to show.

"We've had almost no practice time (recently), and we haven't practiced 5-on-3, and the new players in those spots (on the ice), they weren't originally in those spots at all," Blashill said. "A lot of time on 5-on-3's, what happens is you're shooting (the puck) to get it back and that's when the chaos happens and we never got that opportunity."

Bernier helped the Wings stay close by stopping 40 shots, nearly matching the work of Thomas Greiss the day before.

But while the Wings (18-27-9) were able to stay close and earn a 1-0 shootout win 24 hours earlier, they just couldn’t get that goal Sunday.

"Every night I approach it the same way, (whether) we score seven or one (goal)," Bernier said. "I just focus on myself and go out there and give it all I got and if we score, perfect, and if we don't, I can't control that. Definitely it's tough sometimes because you feel like you're playing the games but not getting the wins, but that's out of your control.

"At the end of the day, I'm not spending any time thinking about that (the lack of goal support)."

Filip Zadina scored for the Wings, cutting the lead to 2-1 at 13:37 of the second period. Zadina scored his sixth goal, snapping a one-timer off a pass from Vladislav Namestnikov past Gibson.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Christopher Gibson (33) celebrates with center Alex Barre-Boulet (60) after a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings in an NHL hockey game Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Detroit.

Blake Coleman and Mikhail Sergachev had goals for Tampa Bay (35-14-3), who won the season series with wins in five of eight games.

"We knew they'd come with a push, they're a real good team and they threw everything at us in the first (period)," Bernier said. "But we didn't let go. We held up the whole game and we tried our best. We had the game there with the 5-on-3, and you have to find a way to get more shots and create chaos and we just didn't capitalize there."

Coleman’s goal at the 16-second mark of the first period was the fastest goal to start a road game in Lightning history.

Tampa Bay’s Barclay Goodrow swiped the puck from Filip Hronek in the corner and centered a pass to Coleman, who one-timed a shot from the slot.

Tampa Bay pushed the lead to 2-0 at 1:09 of the second period, again striking quickly and putting the Wings, who haven't been scoring many goals lately, in a difficult predicament.

Sergachev snapped a shot from the point that got through a screen in front of Bernier, who never saw the puck through the bodies.

"The first one, a quick turnover and that's going to happen, but we chased and the guy (Coleman) was wide open," Blashill said. "The second (goal), they ground us, we were in our end way too long and they shot the puck from the point. Certainly they came out flying tonight, give credit to them and their coaching staff, they were on it for sure. They were putting pucks behind our defense and forechecking us hard and playing in the offensive zone."


Twitter: @tkulfan