After the fireworks that broke out at the end of Game 2 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Detroit Red Wings, it was widely expected that the animosity would continue as the series moved to Detroit. While the on-ice officials had a pretty good handle on the game, that didn't bode well for the Bolts, who found themselves shorthanded seven times on the evening.
What resulted was a lack of offensive production - only 16 shots on goal for Lightning to the Red Wings' 30 shots - and ultimately a 2-0 loss.
If there was one saving grace, however, it was that the Lightning penalty kill was spectacular. But they cannot expect to come away with a series win against this Original Six team if they continue to take careless penalties.
"We didn't give ourselves a chance," head coach Jon Cooper said after the game. "If you're sitting in the penalty box all night, it's hard to do anything."
The game did not start off too badly, as the Lightning were able to escape unscathed and garnered nine shots on goal in the first period. They even managed a fantastic 5-on-3 penalty kill with the help from some fantastic blocks by Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle.
The second period - and the third, for that matter - was a different story. The odd-man rushes for the Detroit Red Wings continued, as did the parade to the penalty box for the Bolts. The momentum that was gained by the Wings finally helped them get on the board at 12:42. As a tic-tac-toe play developed along the left side of the ice, the Bolts defenders drifted away from the center of the ice.
Andreas Athanasiou had moved to the open ice and took a pass from Joakim Andersson, absolutely blasting it over the shoulder of Ben Bishop. The second assist went to Tomas Tatar.
The second goal of the game was marred by controversy, including two very loooooong reviews. Ben Bishop had been spun around by Dylan Larkin after he had drifted from the crease. When trying to recover, he paddled the puck toward Garrison, who tried to clear it. Garrison's clearing attempt bounced off the skate of Henrik Zetterberg and toward through Bishop's pad.
While it was reviewed after a suspected kicking motion, it was ruled that the puck simply bounced off Zetterberg's skate. Cooper decided to challenge it on the grounds of goaltender inference. Officials, however, ruled that Bishop had enough time to recover after being spun around by Larkin.
Frustrations slipped through in the beginning of the third period, as Nikita Kucherov and Darren Helm got into a little scrum only 58 seconds into the final frame. Both went off for unsportsmanlike conduct, creating more open ice in a 4-on-4.
The third period finally saw two power play opportunities for the Lightning, but nothing would come of it and Detroit was content to just kill off the final 20 minutes. While goaltender Petr Mrazek did make some fantastic saves while seeing his first game action of the 2016 NHL Playoffs, he really didn't have to do a whole lot.
"We didn't shoot the puck," Cooper said. "I know they switched goalies, but I don't think they needed one, to be honest."
Ah, but you knew this game between two heated rivals could not end without fireworks, right? Well, they happened after the final whistle. Just when it seemed cooler heads would prevail in this series, Justin Abdelkader launched himself at Alex Killorn in the dying seconds of the game. That sent tensions boiling over and all hell broke loose. That included Abdelkader and Brian Boyle squaring off, but Abdelkader refused to drop his gloves to fight after taking a swing at Boyle. After the game, he cited an injured hand for not fighting. Whatever the reason, Boyle was not amused, throwing a chicken taunt at Abdelkader as he skated off the ice.
Will the Bolts bounce back with a win when the puck drops at 7 p.m. on Tuesday? If they are to do that, they must stay out of the penalty box and they must generate more offense against the Red Wings.