After calling out his team for having “a little bit of entitlement” running through the roster, Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper blended his lineup into a winning recipe, and the Bolts beat down the Detroit Red Wings 5-2 on the road.
Coach Cooper had this to say about his team’s response:
“I thought it was outstanding. We challenged these guys and they continue to answer the bell. This was an easy one to mail in: five-game road trip, how many days we’ve been on the road, back-to-back, through customs and to have the game that we did, especially the way the game went.”
Chris Kunitz — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn — Yanni Gourde — Vladislav Namestnikov
Ryan Callahan — Cedric Paquette —
Victor Hedman — Dan Girardi
Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn — Andrej Sustr
Slater Koekkoek —
Red Wings also running 11/7
Right off the bat, Jon Cooper decides to change up his forward lines, putting Kucherov with Paquette and Callahan for the opening faceoff. After two sub-par games for this team, a shake up was certainly justified.
The pre-game warm-up lines looked to be the same, but looks like the lines are actually going to be as follows for now...— Raw Charge (@RawCharge) January 8, 2018
Louis Domingue makes his Tampa Bay Lightning debut in this game and his second shot is a beauty. Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou streak by Stralman and Sergachev at the blueline for a 2-on-0 chance. Tatar comes in on Domingue, keeps, and is stopped point blank by the blocker of King Louis. Huge opening save for the newest Bolt.
DAN GIRARDI SCORES! No, seriously. Vladdy Namestnikov comes into the Red Wings zone with Gourde and Killorn, circles back with the help of his centerman so he can find a system of attack. That system would end up being a cross-ice pass to a sneaky Girardi who was skating down the back door for an easy tip in goal.
Louis Domingue, who is a rare right-handed catching goaltender, is a little awkward to look at because he looks like a mirror image of every other goalie in the league. This worked to his advantage when he snares a Frans Nielsen wrister from in-close with his glove, adding a little mustard on it for fun. Great start for the former Coyote.
Dan Girardi has been spending a lot of time near the goaltenders. He ends up receiving a pass right in front of Petr Mrazek before sending a broken pass to Tyler Johnson in the slot who puts home the 2-0 goal with a little help from a deflection. Two-point game for Girardi and we’re only 17 minutes in!
Then, like all things against the Red Wings, things get a little rough.
Palat gets hit hard into the wooden lip of the boards by Dylan Larkin. Brayden Point immediately jumps on Larkin while his linemate gets up from the ice and starts wailing on his red adversary.
Both linesmen try to breakup the fight but that doesn’t stop the two 21-year-olds from throwing haymakers in each other’s direction. After the fight ends, Larkin is forced to leave the ice with a bloody nose.
Reverse angle of the Larkin/Point fight. #RedWings #TBLightning pic.twitter.com/OzGAlbCeo7— Stefan Kubus (@StefanKubus) January 8, 2018
In terms of penalties, Larkin was just going to get two minutes for boarding, but earns himself an extra five minutes for fighting. It should have been a power play for the Lightning but Point receives two minutes for roughing Larkin on top of his five for fighting. 5-on-5 it is!
With 2:44 left in the period, Kuch gets called for slashing. The Wings don’t like Kucherov’s actions and start another scrum after the whistle. No penalties are called with the exception of Kucherov’s.
The power play sees Hedman and Justin Abdelkater running each other in both the neutral zone between the benches, in the corner, and right in front of the net after the whistle.
As the cameras stay on the Hedman-Abdelkater hugging, Tatar and Yanni Gourde get into a fight! (This is all happening after a whistle 1:07 into the Kucherov penalty).
Gourde, who knows how to throw ‘em from his years in the American Hockey League, tosses Tatar around like a rag-doll before slamming him onto the ice.
Tomas Tatar and Yanni Gourde then dropped the mitts. #FightNightAtTheLCA #RedWings #TBLightning pic.twitter.com/6RquOPRBNb— Stefan Kubus (@StefanKubus) January 8, 2018
If I learned one thing today it’s this: do not mess with Yanni Gourde, he will mess you up.
After the dust clears (again), Gourde and Tatar go off for fighting and Hedman recieves a slashing penalty for his work on Abdelkater. Not sure how all of that adds up to a 5-on-3 penalty kill for the Lightning, but that’s what the referees decide.
Callahan, Stralman, and Girardi — the three penalty killing vets — step onto the ice and show the rest of the team how to kill off a 53 second 5-on-3 disadvantage. Very impressive work that included a huge Cally block on Mike Green. What else is new, eh.
Hats off to not only Cally, Stralman, and Dan “The Rocket” Girardi, but Louis Domingue as well. He made two or three big stops on the Red Wings, including keeping a puck that squeaked through his five-hole from going past him and into the net.
In case you already forgot, the Lightning ended that period with a 2-0 lead. The Wings lead in shot attempts (19-20 with eight attempts on the power play), shots (9-13, five on the power play), and scoring chances (10-11, three on the power play).
Domingue kicks off the period with some wild but effective goaltending work on the penalty kill, helping the Lightning kill off the Hedman slash.
Zetterberg throws the puck up from his own zone and it lands in between Gustav Nyqvist and Dan Girardi. Girardi tries to poke-check the puck while moving to his left but fails to make contact leaving Nyqvist to come in alone on Domingue and score glove side. It’s now a one-goal game.
Every whistle has been leading to a scrum after. Whether it’s Kucherov standing a little too close to the goalie in the Wings zone, or Mantha shooting the puck in the net after the whistle, it is clear that these two teams remember the hate that was created in the playoffs in the past few seasons.
While killing a Stamkos roughing penalty, Martin Frk — who has one of the hardest shots in the league — lets loose a blast that hits square into the side of girardi’s head.
Girardi takes a Martin Frk slapshot up high and he drops immediately. Just now getting to his feet pic.twitter.com/bo1eQojsux— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) January 8, 2018
The defensive defenseman goes down immediately. Both trainers in the building come onto the ice and rush to aid Girardi who would stay down for several minutes. Eventually, he would get up but not without assistance from his teammates.
Crowd cheering and showing their respect for the “warrior” as Cooper calls him. Girardi being helped back to the bench by his teammates after taking a heavy shot up high. #TBLvsDET pic.twitter.com/WygxWYrXd8— Caley Chelios (@CaleyChelios) January 8, 2018
Gourde comes down the half-wall and throws the puck on net. It deflects off Jonathan Ericsson and nearly slides into the net but Mrazek keeps it out with a spinning sweep while on his stomach. Gourde continues towards the net and retrieves his own rebound, stashing it into the Red Wing net.
Gourd-ie Howe Hat Trick
Hold on a second. Yanni had an assist in the first, a fight at the end of the first, and now a goal. Goal, assist, fight. That’s a Gordie Howe hat-trick in the barn where Mr. Howe’s banner is raised, no less. Yanni can do it all.
The Lightning forgot the aim of the game in that period after only recording four (4!) shots in the second period. The Wings out-shot (4-14), out-attempted (8-30!), and out-scoring chanced (6-14) the Lightning in that period.
Time to forget all the extra curriculars and beat Detroit with pucks, pads, and goal-lights.
Good news at the intermission.
Fox Sports Sun broadcast says the team has announced that Girardi is ok.— Raw Charge (@RawCharge) January 8, 2018
Victor Hedman throws a grenade up the middle of the ice at his own blueline and turns the puck over. The biscuit eventually bounces to Abdelkater who fires home the pucck from the point. It’s a one-goal game again. At this point in the game, the Lightning are on pace to allow 40 shots on net. Not a banner night defensively.
Aside from a few good shifts in the offensive zone by the Vladdy - Gourde - Killorn line, the Lightning spend the majority of the third period crawled in a shell in their own zone as they try to defend their way to a win.
The Bolts get what feel like their first offensive zone face-off of the period and they make the most of it. Off a Wings icing, Stamkos wins the draw directly Kucherov who blasts a one-timer past Mrazek to restore the two-goal lead for the boys in blue. What a wicked shot from the world’s best goalscorer.
The Red Wings have started to get desperate and are making mistakes in their own zone. Ondrej Palat is able to steal the puck from Nick Jensen and force Mrazek to make a big save but isn’t able to corrale the rebound.
Gourde pounces on the puck and gets just enough on it so that the puck can rainbow over the Wings netminder and just past the goal-line. A squeaker but it counts as Gourde’s second of the night!
And that does it, the Lightning finish off the Detroit Red Wings 5-2 at Little Caesars Arena.
The Good: The Penalty Kill
Some would argue that the Lightning were unfairly given two 5-on-3 man disadvantages to the Wings’ zero but that was the situation the Bolts were dealt and they had to live with it.
And, boy, did they. the Lightning went 4/4 on the penalty kill with Dan Girardi and Victor Hedman leading the way with over 4:35 and 4:02 minutes killed of the total 5:55 that the Lightning were down.
Ryan Callahan only played 1:40 on the penalty kill but he was huge in those minutes for the Lightning. He helped kill off the entire first 5-on-3 at a time when the Lightning were really hemorrhaging shots and chances. It’s good to have you back, Cally.
The Bad: Hedman
We hold Heddy to a high standard because he’s been at that elite level for so long. This game wasn’t his best in a variety of areas. The top Bolts defenseman took a penalty while already down a man when he let Justin Abdelkater get into his head with the physical play. Does anyone really think Abdelkater just wanted to go after Hedman for no reason? Of course not. He did it to get something positive for his team out of him and he succeeded.
Hedman also made a few physical plays that didn’t get called as dangerous but were so nonetheless. I can recall a high elbow on a Red Wing forward near the net that didn’t hit its mark but allowed said player a decent chance at the net as something that showed Hedman focusing on the players he was playing against more than making the right play to stop them.
I don’t want to be too hard on Heddy because, frankly, it’s the Red Wings.
The Whatever: The featherweight division
The whole beginning of the game was dominated by players running players in the corners, getting into each other’s faces after whistles, and fights from two players who combine to weigh a slight 338lbs.
All the extra-curricular activites got the team off their game, playing right into the hands of the Red Wings who ran the Lightning’s show when it came to the important things like possession and chances.
Get that stuff out of your head, focus on playing your game, and get on with it.
At the very least we — and the rest of the NHL — know that this team can and will defend itself. Especially when players who aren’t known for fighting drop the gloves.
The Lightning will return home for two games against the Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames on Tuesday and Thursday before going on their five-day bye week.
We’ll see you on January 9 at AMALIE Arena — or on the internets — for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.