Game 31: Tampa Bay Lightning versus Detroit Red Wings

Nikita Kucherov shoots and scores during the second period of Tampa Bay's 2-1 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night. - Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Images

Ben Bishop in the shootout turns out to be the difference in a tightly contested game between the Lightning and Red Wings.

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in a shootout at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Thursday night.

As the Lightning continue to accrue points, keeping themselves in the thick of the playoff race in spite of a rash of injuries combined with a scoring slump, individual efforts are magnified.

"Our goal from day one was that we want to make the playoffs. You can't win the Stanley Cup unless you get to the tournament. You have to accumulate points. You have to snuff out losing streaks, you can't let them mount." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper

Tonight, once again, it was the individual effort of goaltender Ben Bishop that will get the credit for making the difference.

"Bishop made some huge saves for us to push us to overtime. Their guy played great too. The monster was a monster tonight. It's no big surprise that it (the shootout) took 12 shooters." - Cooper

"I felt we deserved two points, both teams played good, we scored one more than they did. Tonight we stayed out of the box, the penalty kill stepped up after a tough game in Washington and it was a big win." - Bishop

The two teams seemed to be feeling each other out through the first period with both sides doing their best to maintain control of the puck without mounting much in the way of actual sustained offensive threats. They combined for only 14 shots with Detroit holding the slight edge at 8-6 and Tampa Bay holding a similarly slight edge in hits, 7-4. Each team had one fruitless power play.

Detroit notched the only goal of the period at 15:04 when Kyle Quincey continued to swat at a loose puck at the side of the net until it slipped past Bishop. Gustav Nyquist and Johan Franzen were awarded assists on the play.

Early in the second, Martin St. Louis had a chance to tie the game but fanned on a shorthanded breakaway, missing wide to the left.

Some time around midway through the period, the Lightning seemed to open things up and started to swing the momentum in their favor, outshooting the Red Wings 10-6 during the period and generating good scoring chances.

The Lightning finally cashed in at 19:16 when JT Brown deflected an errant clearing attempt by the Red Wings to Nikita Kucherov who spun and fired, slinging the puck past goaltender Jonas Gustavsson for his third goal of the season and sending the two teams into the third period tied at one.

Detroit pushed back in the third and was able to bottle the Lightning up in their own zone for long stretches of time.

As the period progressed, a definite sense that the next goal would win it began to take hold. That would prove to be the case but bf course, nobody had any idea how long that would take.

Both teams saw golden opportunities in the form of power plays late in the period (one for Detroit, two for the Lightning, one of which bled into overtime) but neither could convert.

The period ended with the teams tied at one and the five-minute overtime period yielded nothing, so it was off to the shootout, the second in a row for both teams.

The Lightning started first but it took six rounds to settle matters, with St. Louis being the only skater for either side to score. Bishop turned away Franzen on the final Red Wings attempt to seal the win for the Bolts.

Bishop stopped 28 of 29 shots plus the six in the shootout on the night while Gustavsson stopped 26 of 27 and five of six in the shootout.

The Lightning will now head out on a three-game road trip with their next game being at New Jersey on Saturday. They'll return home next Thursday when the host the Nashville Predators.

Game notes:

  • Both teams lost their previous games in shootouts Tuesday night, Tampa Bay at Washington and Detroit at Florida.
  • The Lightning are now 5-11-1 with a tie on home ice against Detroit, snapping a three game losing streak.
  • It was the Lightning's first win over the Red Wings at home since January 7, 2003.
  • The Lightning improved to 4-1 in shootouts this season.
  • Kucherov has recorded goals in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
  • The Lightning are 4-0-3 when tied after two periods.
  • St. Louis's last shootout goal came on March 22, 2012 against Edmonton.
  • The Bolts are 7-3 in overtime this season.
  • The Lightning honored Kristine Ellis as the 15th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Ellis, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Dream Center of Tampa. Ellis came from a tragic childhood, and has dedicated her life to ensuring that others don't have to live through similar circumstances. She has consistently served as an exceptional volunteer in both California and Florida. Besides being one of the Dream Center's most dedicated volunteers, Ellis also donates her time to her church's social programs. Despite working a full-time job, she spends her free time improving the lives of others. Her dedication to the Dream Center of Tampa has helped young people grow into better adults by showing them how to live an honest life. In addition to coaching youth, she gives kids advice in dealing with life issues and supports them with other daily needs. She often supports them by showing up at their sporting events and helps purchase them clothing. Ellis' passion and presence in the Tampa Bay community is helping make the world a better place.
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