Red Wings finally solve Lightning goalie Vasilevskiy, beat Cup champions

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

The Red Wings finally solved Tampa goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The Wings used a three-goal barrage in the second period and Jakub Vrana scored his second goal Tuesday in the third period, snapping a tie and giving the Wings a 4-3 victory over the Lightning.

The defeat the was the first in Vasilevskiy's career in the regular season against the Red Wings in 14 decisions (13-1-0).

Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian (24) looks away as the Red Wings celebrate left wing Lucas Raymond's goal (23) during the second period.

It was only the Wings' second victory in their last 20 games in Tampa, in a game where the Wings were missing key players and were coming off two miserable weekend losses.

But it was a different looking Wings' team.

"We prepare for every game and we go into every game with winning the game," Vrana said. "We don't really care about the opponent or what they do or what they did. We focus on ourselves and get ourselves better.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 4, Lightning 3

"What can we do better out there to give the chance to win the game? That was our mindset and that's our mindset every game to get better and make sure we give ourselves a chance to win the game.

"We did a great job and we won."

Said coach Jeff Blashill: "It was a real good performance. They scored in the third (tying the game) and we didn't melt at all. We stayed right with it and they certainly had their chances, but we had chances and (goaltender) Thomas (Greiss) was good.

"The sacrifice you saw at the end was outstanding. I was real proud of the effort guys put forth."

After Tampa's Ross Colton had tied the game early in the third period, Vrana stripped Tampa defenseman Mikhail Sergachev of the puck near the blue line and skated alone on Vasilevskiy, snapping a shot for Vrana's 12th goal and second of the game at 5 minutes, 9 seconds to break a 3-3 tie.

The goal was also Vrana's 20th in 32 games as Red Wing since being acquired at last season's trade deadline.

"He played as a complete a hockey game as he played all season for us," Blashill said. "He was excellent in every facet of the game."

More: Larkin's injury creates another opportunity with Red Wings for Veleno

Detroit Red Wings center Joe Veleno (90) and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) battle for the puck during the third period.

Vrana was more interested talking about what Tuesday's victory could do for the team.

"We can take a lot of positive things out of it," Vrana said. "We played great today, we deserved to win. There's a lot of positive things we can take out of it moving forward."

Oskar Sundqvist, Vrana and Lucas Raymond scored goals in a span of 3:57 in the second period, and goaltender Thomas Greiss made 37 saves in outplaying Vasilevskiy, and igniting the Wings' victory.

Greiss made several big saves in the third period, preserving the lead.

"The key to winning the hockey game, first of all, was Greisser," Vrana said. "He was the whole game for us. He had huge saves during the whole game."

But the sacrifice that has been missing for most of the second half was definitely there against Tampa.

"Guys were paying the price and blocking shots, making sure the puck doesn't go in our net," Vrana said. "When you do those things, chances will come."

It was the first victory in four tries for the Wings this season against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning.

Lightning left wing Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41) and Red Wings defenseman Gustav Lindstrom (28) battle for the puck during the second period.

The Wings played without Dylan Larkin (core muscle surgery), whose season ended Monday, and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, who was ill.

Still, the Wings (30-37-10) rebounded from two bad losses over the weekend, and not having Larkin, the team captain, to surprise Tampa in what was, basically, a playoff atmosphere game for the Wings.

"It was one of those games for sure," Blashill said. "There was some physicality, some competitiveness, they want points and they're trying to get their game in the right spot. It's a game against a real good team and that's playing for something and it's a great chance for every player on our team to kind of measure themselves."

Colton had two goals and Nikita Kucherov (power play) added a goal, and Steven Stamkos assisted on all three goals for the Lightning (46-22-8).

Colton scored his second of the game (19th of season) at 43 seconds of the third period, tying the game at 3.

Stamkos had the puck in the corner and found Colton all alone in the slot. Colton's point blank shot beat Greiss, deflating some of the momentum the Wings had built in the middle period.

But Vrana answered with his breakaway goal, the second time the Wings answered after a key Tampa goal.

"We stayed with it," Blashill said. "Part of that is you get saves at key moments and Greiss certainly did that in the third period."

Twitter: @tkulfan