The Tampa Bay Lightning were hoping to make it 10 straight games with at least a point, but that streak died tonight as the Detroit Red Wings defeated them 6-4 at Little Caesars Arena. Troy Stecher, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Luke Glendening, Robby Fabbri, and Vladislav Namestnikov scored for Detroit. Mikhail Sergachev, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Ondrej Palat scored for Tampa Bay. Curtis McElhinney had a rough evening as he stopped 11-of-16 shots. Jonathan Bernier stopped 30-for-33.
In a period where your team controls 71% of the shot attempts (24-10), 85% of the scoring chances (12-2), 86% of the high danger chances (6-1), and generates an xGF% of 84% trailing 3-2 after the first period is hilarious.
There was little doubt who the better team was after the opening 20 minutes—it was Tampa Bay. However, mistakes and opportunistic scoring by the Red Wings placed the Lightning in an early deficit. The results didn’t line up how Tampa Bay would’ve liked, but their process was sound.
The issues arise when situations like Detroit’s goals happen.
Bad offensive turnover and Curtis McElhinney caught off guard by a deceptive snipe from Troy Stecher. We’d be splitting hairs on blaming McElhinney here, but this chance doesn’t even occur without the poor passing in the offensive zone.
Oh, look, another turnover. This time in the neutral zone, followed up by Jan Rutta just not having the awareness needed to sense Dylan Larkin driving towards the net—wonderful!
It was a rough period for Rutta, folks. The angle he takes to the puck, the decision to tie up Anthony Mantha instead of swatting the puck away forces him to become off-balance and fall. Thus sliding in McElhinney and causing this goal to happen.
There were some bright spots though.
We will always stan Mikhail Sergachev goals in this house.
The puck movement, the slight shift in strategy, the Stamkos shot. All of it is beautiful.
Clean up the mistakes and the Lightning should be right back in this one.
So, about “cleaning up the mistakes”.
Rutta is doing everything in his power to get himself a permanent slot on the taxi squad with his game this evening. There’s no pressure here, all he has to do is let Filip Zadina skate by. Instead, he tries to thread a pass he has no business attempting and then fails to even negate the scoring chance after getting in front of the net. McElhinney gets caught being too aggressive when he has defensive help near the net, which indicates that he is chasing instead of letting the game come to him.
It wouldn’t be long until McElhinney proved me right.
This is a beautiful shot from Robby Fabbri, but McElhinney’s angle is so far off on this goal I don’t think it would’ve mattered where Fabbri put this one. Another aspect that has cropped up in every goal this evening, turnovers. This time by Mathieu Joseph at the offensive blue line.
The Lightning ended up taking their timeout after this goal. Likely so Jon Cooper could ask his team, “What the F*** is going on here, boys?” The rest of the Lightning fanbase would like to know as well.
Tampa Bay noticeably took control of the game after the timeout. The turnovers were still present, but their recovery helped mitigate them as the period waned. What the Lightning did manage to do consistently was pin the Red Wings in the offensive zone and rack up shots, chances, and pressure. The problem was Jonathan Bernier having a spectacular game for Detroit (the posts for Bernier were having a great game as well).
Tampa Bay had three power-plays in the second period fail to convert due to Bernier’s heroics.
The chippiness kicked up as well as both teams combined for 22 minutes of penalties, highlighted by the Barclay Goodrow - Adam Erne fight that saw Goodrow drop Erne with a right hook directly into the chin.
One dominant period. One poor period. What will the third bring? A three-goal deficit is no easy feat to thwart.
The final frame was a tease. Detroit, predictably, sat back and kept everything in front of them. Tampa Bay dictated the pace and dominated both the counting and analytical numbers, but it mattered little as Bernier continued to thwart every Lightning chance. At least until the final five minutes.
There wasn’t a ton of false hope after this goal, but seeing Point score is always a joy.
Oh...now things are interesting. Cooper’s aggressive call to pull McElhinney early paid off in this instance. It’s a move I wish he would do a little more often in these situations.
Tampa Bay’s onslaught throughout the period finally caused some cracks in Bernier’s play, and the final three minutes saw them throw everything they could at the Detroit netminder. Unfortunately, they never threatened to score for the remainder of the period.
Seeing Namestnikov in a Red Wings jersey feels wrong.
Post Game Thoughts
The end of a long road trip is always a rough outing for the Lightning, and tonight was no different. One could argue Tampa Bay was “goalie’d” this evening, but it wasn’t like Bernier shut them out. He allowed four goals—that isn’t getting “goalie’d”. Turning the puck over too much and struggling to stay disciplined defensively is what sunk the Lightning tonight. They were their own worst enemy and Detroit capitalized when they should have.
Shot attempts tonight were 80-33 in favor of #TBLightning.— Lightning Insider (@Erik_Erlendsson) March 12, 2021
Tampa Bay loses the top spot in the league standings after Toronto’s overtime win against Winnipeg, but going 9-1-1 in their last 10 games is still the best record in the league. The Lightning will shake this game off and be ready for Nashville on Saturday.