For most of the game Ville Husso and Andrei Vasilevskiy traded save after save as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings played a low-scoring, high-energy game. Down a goal heading into the third period, the Lightning threw everything except Thunderbug at Husso, but the free agent signee was staunch in net, allowing just two of the 30 Lightning shots in the final frame to get past him. With the aid of a couple of empty net goals, the Red Wings held on for the 4-2 victory. Husso ended with 44 saves on 46 shots while Vasilevskiy had 22 on 24 saves.
Steven Stamkos (career goal 495) and Brayden Point had the goals for the Lightning while Michael Rasmussen, Jonatan Berggren, Adam Erne (empty net), and David Perron (empty net) had the markers for the Red Wings. With the win, Detroit moved into a tie with the Lightning in the standings with 31 points.
There was some line shuffling to begin the game as Anthony Cirelli centered Pat Maroon and Vlad Namestnikov while Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was in the middle of Ross Colton and Corey Perry. The top six stayed as before.
After an early push by the Red Wings (they had the first four shots on net) the Lightning picked up their first power play and had their first chance to extend their team-record ten straight games with a power play goal. A nice entry by Point led to a quality shot for Nikita Kucherov, but that was the closest they would come to success.
The Lightning dodged a goal on a slightly amusing play. Alex Killorn lost his stick behind the Lightning net and was trying to retrieve it, but it was caught up in David Perron’s skates and kept getting farther and farther away from Killorn as Perron wheeled out from behind the cage. He did eventually pick it up, but was out of position and Jordan Oesterle crept into the empty space and snapped a shot that beat Vasy but karaanged off of the far post
Both teams traded chances throughout the period with the Lightning getting off a chance on two-on-one with Pat Maroon and Cirelli that went just wide. Dominik Kubalik had a breakaway that Vasilevskiy stopped and then swatted off the goal line as he fell into the net.
Neither team was respectful of their coach’s wishes to take care of the puck and the resulting turnovers ed to scrambled play at both ends. The Lightning were charged with 11 giveaways in the period. I’m not sure if the statistician was originally from the Motor City, but the Red Wings had zero on their end despite some obvious gaffes that led to chances for the Bolts.
Despite all of the excitement and 41 combined shot attempts their were no goals scored. That in itself was testament to the play of Vasilevskiy and Husso. The Red Wings, thanks to their early pressure, ended the period with the edge in shot attempts (22-19) and high-danger chances (9-7). While the Lightning led in total scoring chances (16-11).
It did kind of feel like it was a matter of time until the Red Wings would score and just under two minutes into the period, Michael Rasmussen was able to get inside Stamkos on an entry into the zone and his shot beat Vasilevskiy cleanly.
Michael Rasmussen (Dominik Kubalik, Filip Hronek) 1-0 Red Wings
A power play came and went for the Lightning. It wasn’t effective and the Red Wings stopped it fairly easily, but it did seem to give the Bolts a little momentum and they cycled through some solid shifts.
Not much of consequence happened over the next ten or so minutes. Both teams were checking each other fairly tightly, especially in the neutral zone, so offense was at a premium. At least the Lightning knocked it off with the turnovers, committing just three in the middle frame.
Vlad Namestnikov went off for a crosscheck and midway through the kill Brandon Hagel and Kubalik went off with matching penalties. Paul created a turnover towards the end of the kill, but his shot impacted on the surface of the post. Bummer.
There was quite a bit less action in the middle frame, but it mirrored the first period as Detroit led in shot attempts (11-10) and scoring chances (7-4) while the Lightning had the slightest of edges in high-danger chances (3-2). It was still the goaltenders stealing the show as there was just one goal on the board despite the teams combining for an expected goals of 4.28.
Down a goal heading into the third period hasn’t necessarily been detrimental for the Lightning this season. Entering the game they had a 3-5-0 record when trailing after two periods and they’ve outscored their opponents 18-12 in the third period at home through twelve games.
Coach Cooper threw the lines in a blender (watch it spin around in ‘round in a beautiful oblivion, rendezvous, then I’m..through..with..you) to start the third period and the Bolts dialed up the forecheck pressure. Sadly, Ville Husso wasn’t keyed in on their plans to tie the game up and made several sharp saves.
The first five minutes was all Tampa Bay, but following a nice stop on Perron by Vasilevskiy on a two-on-one, Detroit pushed back a little and were able to get that all important second goal. They worked the puck around and Jonatan Berggren continued his hot streak since being recalled as he tipped a point shot from Olli Matta over Vasilevskiy’s glove.
Jonatan Berggren (Olli Matta, Joe Velano) 2-0 Lightning
So yeah, things started to get a little ridiculous after the goal. The Lightning were attacking in waves and Husso was denying them at every turn. Literally, I think he stopped one while facing the wrong way.
At the other end, Vasilevskiy kept them in the game with a stunning save on Lucas Raymond (see photo at the top of the article).
Since five skaters weren’t working for them, Coach Cooper pulled Vasilevskiy with 5:21 to go. That worked. With Husso slightly screened by Moritz Seider, Steven Stamkos unleashed a classic one-timer that the goaltender never saw. NO SHUTOUT TONIGHT!
Steven Stamkos (Victor Hedman, Corey Perry) 2-1 Red Wings
If it worked once, it could work again, right? Right? Wrong. Old friend Adam Erne turned and saucered the puck down the ice from his own zone and it split the uprights into the empty net to make it 3-1 with 3:35 to go.
Adam Erne (Andrew Copp) Empty Net, 3-1 Red Wings
Coach Cooper cares not if you score on an empty net, he’ll still give his team a chance and it paid off as Brayden Point chipped one past Husso with over two minutes to go. Could they pull this off? More important, could we get to the over?
Brayden Point (Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov) 3-2 Red Wings
One last gasp with a minute to go and another empty net ended when David Peron outfought a backchecking Kucherov to seal the game. Sadly, the Lightning would not pull off the win and we fell short of hitting the 6.5 total goals.
David Peron (Andrew Copp, Filip Hronek) Empty Net, 4-2 Red Wings
The Lightning pushed hard in the third period as they threw 38 shot attempts in the general direction of Husso with 30 actually making it onto the goaltender. Scoring chances were 28-9, and high-danger chances were 14-6. Look, sometimes you get goalie’d and the third period was one of those. The Lightning posted a xGF of 5.17 over the course of the game and Husso only allowed 2. He stole the third period and ultimately the game.
Had the Lightning played better in the first period and not committed 11 turnovers, they might not have had to push so hard at the end. They did clean up their game as it went on, turning the puck only 5 times over the final two periods, but Detroit scored some opportunistic goals and defended when they needed to in order to pull out the win.