Thursday night, the Lightning posted an improbable and heroic comeback effort to go from being down 3-1 and on the verge of being knocked out of the playoffs to re-booting the series as a three-game affair with two of them at home, where they were the NHL's best team during the regular season. They followed that up with an effort that may have been improbable but was anything other than heroic. A charged-up sell-out crowd who wanted desperately to cheer the roof off the Amalie Arena as the Lightning seized a chance to finally take the high ground in this series, or at least play like they could, was instead treated to an opportunity squandered.
"Well, I think the score is a little different than what the game can tell. I don't necessarily think it was a 4-0 game. You know, they deserved to win, I'm not taking that away from them, but I felt we could have been better. It's frustrating that we had the chance to score and make it a 1-1 game, 2-1 game or whatever it may have been. It just didn't work for us, and that kind of changed the momentum of the entire time." - Tyler Johnson
It looked like the first period was going to end in a scoreless tie but the Red Wings cashed in on a power play goal from Riley Sheahan with just :23 remaining. Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg chipped in with assists.
The Lightning "responded" by finally posting their first shot of the second period on Detroit goalie Peter Mrazek at 9:42. This actually ended a drought of 20:14 without a shot on goal, which actually began in the first period.
At 4:14, they doubled their lead when Drew Miller scored on assists from Luke Glendening and Jonathan Ericsson.
Give credit where credit is due, when the Red Wings don't want you to skate freely, you won't. This has been the case any time they get a lead and has factored prominently in all three of their wins and for most of Game 4. All night, the Lightning found difficulty gaining the offensive zone and staying there once they got there.
At the end of two periods, the Lightning trailed 2-0. This is where similarities with Game 4 end.
They got another power play goal at 15:47 of the third, this time from Pavel Datsyuk skating unmolested to the top of the slot where he snapped off a wrist shot. Ericsson and Darren Helm got the helpers.
An empty netter from Danny Dekeyser, getting assistance from Kyle Quincey and Joakim Andersson at 18:22 finished off the fireworks.
"It's tough. Obviously I want to produce and it's not for lack of effort. In fact, I'm working my ass off out there, it's just not going like I want it. Obviously, I want to help our team win. No one else is feeling sorry for us or myself. We realize we've got to work hard and we'll keep doing like we're doing." - Steven Stamkos
The Lightning will try to stay alive and bring a Game 7 back home when they travel to Detroit for Game 6 on Monday.
- The Lightning are now 4-7 all-time in Game 5's
- Held scoreless tonight, Tampa Bay's Nikita Nesterov has posted three points in his first five NHL playoff games.
- Leagues best team at home in the regular season at 32-8-1 is now 1-2 at Amalie Arena in this series/postseason.
- In the past eight meetings between the Lightning and Red Wings, including the regular season,the team that has scored first has won seven games. Game 4 of this series being the exception.
- Speaking of Game 4...
- The Lightning are only the second road playoff team since 1988 to rally from a two goal deficit in the final six minutes.
- Game 4 was the first time in franchise history that the Lightning have come back from behind two goals in the third period of a postseason game.
- The Lightning honored Richard Gonzmart as the 44th Lightning Community Hero of the season during the first period tonight. Gonzmart, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Moffitt Cancer Center, Jesuit High School, the Tampa Metro YMCA and Cristo Rey Tampa High School. "[Success] is not about our wealth, it's not about our fame, it's not about the power that we have," Gonzmart has said. "It's about what we do with the gift that God gives...When times are hard, we have to give and when times are better, we have to give more." This is the heart of Gonzmart, the fourth generation owner of Tampa Bay's renowned Columbia Restaurant and community advocate. He has served on many non-profit boards and championed numerous causes, specifically those related to cancer research, children, the arts, police and animals. In 2001, Gonzmart established the Columbia Restaurant Endowment for research at Moffitt Cancer & Research Center. He is also the founder of "Richard's Run for Life" a charity dedicated to raising funds for cancer and to raise awareness for adolescent and young adult osteosarcoma cancer. In conjunction to being named tonight's Lightning Community Hero, Gonzmart has previously been the recipient of multiple awards for his contribution to the community including the Rotary Club Service Above Others Award (2008), the Tampa Police Citizen of the Year by the Tampa Police Department (2012), and the Visionary Award on behalf of the Foundation Fighting Blindness (2015).