Time: 3:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Little Caesars Arena
Opponent SBNation Site: Winging it in Motown
Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t beat the Detroit Red Wings yesterday, while their main rivals, the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes, earned two points each on Saturday night. The Bolts still collected a point in that game, but their gap behind the Canes has extended to four points with just five games left in regular season. First place is very crucial in the Central Division and would allow them to avoid Florida and Carolina in the first round of playoffs – two teams that are among the strongest in the whole league.
Yesterday's performance by the Lightning wasn’t terrible. Tampa Bay played well, generated more scoring chances and dominated the opponent in most aspects of the game, but were simply unlucky in converting those chances to actual goals. Add to it Thomas Greiss, who played arguably his best game as a Red Wings player, a dissallowed goal due to goaltender interference and four hits to the post and you will understand what went wrong in this game for the Lightning.
Not capitalizing on their scoring chances has been the main Lightning’s issue during their recent scoring slump, that seemed to stabilized until this game. Prior to this game, Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point had 10 and 11 points respectively in the previous seven games. In the second period they had a great opportunity to open the score on a 2-on-1 rush, but Palat’s shot hit the net from its left side after a great centering feed by Point. Another frustration moment of yesterday’s game is not converted 5-on-3 power play opportunity – the Red Wings’ penalty kill did a great job on keeping the Bolts as far from the net as possible and blocked most of their long-distance shots.
With that being said, Curtis McElhinney’s performance shouldn’t be left unnoticed. He didn’t have a big workload in this game, but managed to stay concentrated in the rare occasions when Detroit threatened his net. He kept the Lightning in the game through regulation and overtime and stopped four out of eight Detroit shootout attempts. Since the game against Nashville, when he allowed seven goals on 22 shots, he has been looking very confident, allowing just one goal in his two past games.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was given a day off yesterday with Cristopher Gibson being McElhinney’s backup on Saturday. Answering if Vasilevskiy will start today against Detroit, Jon Cooper just mysteriously replied that they have some plans for him, which could mean that Gibson will play his second game for the Lightning this season. The Lightning have also recently recalled Spencer Martin to their taxi squad, so he potentially could make his debut for the Lightning.
The Lightning are playing another afternoon game today in Detroit. So far this season the Bolts are 4-2-1 on the second leg of back-to-back games. This will be also the final game against the Red Wings this season. The Lightning have already won the season series against them and currently hold a 4-2-1 record in 2020-21 season.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Alex Barre-Boulet
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson
Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman
Patrick Maroon - Ross Colton - Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak
Ryan McDonagh - David Savard
Mikhail Sergachev - Luke Schenn
Detroit Red Wings Lines
Jakub Vrana - Michael Rasmussen - Valtteri Filpulla
Adam Erne - Vladislav Namestnikov - Filip Zadina
Richard Panik - Joe Veleno - Sam Gagner
Darren Helm - Luke Glendening - Evgeny Svechnikov
Dennis Cholowski - Filip Hronek
Marc Staal - Troy Stetcher
Danny DeKeyser - Gustav Lindstrom