Eddie Pasquale earns 6-5 victory for the Lightning over the Red Wings in first career start
The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Detroit Red Wings 6-5 in yet another comeback victory. This time, they had to go all the way to the shootout.
The story of this game was Eddie Pasquale making his first appearance in the NHL after playing 235 games in the AHL over eight seasons. Yes, he allowed five goals tonight. That shouldn’t be a surprise. This isn’t a situation where he would be expected to put up a shutout.
But he did enough to keep the team in the game and give the skaters in front of him a chance to win the game, which they did. And when his moment to shine in the shootout arrived, he pounced.
The game started with Lighting in control. The kept the puck in the offensive zone for extended periods. But they didn’t do much with that zone time.
They had two dangerous rush chances in the first half of the period. The first came from Victor Hedman but Jimmy Howard was able to make the save. The second came with Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos somehow failing to get on a shot on a 2-on-1. Moments later on the same shift, Kucherov received in pass with an open net but the puck bounced off his stick.
At the other end of the ice, Detroit had the puck for comparatively little time but put it on net at every opportunity. None of their shots in the early part of the period were dangerous but it seemed they were looking to put as many shots on Pasquale as possible.
In the second half of the period, the game started to change. The pace heightened and both teams found more space through the neutral zone. Pasquale made his first big save of the game on a rush chance for Andreas Athanasiou. Dylan Larkin sprung him in alone on net but Pasquale kicked the puck away to the corner.
The Lightning responded with two consecutive golden chances. First, Paquette received a pass in the slot and barely missed the net wide. A minute later, Alex Killorn collected a pass at the side of the net with tons of space to target with Howard all the way at the other side of the crease. But the angle was a little tight and Killorn lifted the puck up and off the crossbar.
The pace at this point suggested a goal was coming for someone and that did happen. A relatively harmless play in the defensive zone turned into the first goal of the game for the Wings. The puck bounced out of the corner and Stamkos was in position to clear it. But he was off balance and not only didn’t get to the puck but also effectively set a pick on Dan Girardi leaving Gus Nyquist with a wide open look at Pasquale. The Detroit forward didn’t miss and opened the scoring.
Just 21 seconds later, the Lightning got another bad break in the defensive zone that led to a goal. This time, Tyler Johnson tried to make a pass up ice but it deflected off of Athanasiou’s skate directly to Frans Nielsen in the slot. He didn’t give Pasquale time to get set and buried the shot.
Despite playing a decent first period, the Lightning entered the first intermission down 2-0.
The Lightning played even better in the second period than they did in the first but still didn’t get the results they wanted. The Bolts started the period controlling play and limiting Detroit’s opportunities.
They got on the board about five minutes into the period on a ridiculous goal by Mathieu Joseph. He received a pass on the rush but it bounced off his skate and appeared to kick way too far ahead for him to be able to recover it. But his speed allowed him to catch up, reach out with one hand, and flick the rolling puck over the far shoulder of a stunned Howard. Watch the video on this one. Seriously.
Over the next few minutes, the Lightning continued to control play but like the first period, the game got wild in the second half of the period. It started with the teams trading scoring chances and eventually led to trading goals.
Detroit got the first big chance but Mikhail Sergachev deflected a cross slot pass that almost certainly would have ended up in the back of the net. Shortly after, the Lightning countered with another rush chance for Kucherov and Stamkos. Stamkos fed a pass across the slot to Kucherov but he couldn’t quite tap it in at the back door. Detroit countered with a great chance for Thomas Vanek that was broken up at the last moment by Girardi.
Joseph tied the game shortly after on an easy tap in after Howard made a mistake behind the net. He turned the puck over to Yanni Gourde who fed a pass to Joseph in front of the net for a dunk into a wide open net.
But this is when things really got out of hand. Detroit responded with pressure almost immediately. Danny DeKeyser put a shot off the post from a sharp angle low in the slot. The Wings kept things going in the offensive zone and Frans Nielsen beat Pasquale cleanly on a shot from the high slot to put Detroit back in front 3-2.
The scoring was far from over though. The next big chance came to Paquette. Much like in the first period, he took a great pass in the low slot and barely missed beating Howard. Moments later, Ryan Callahan hit Stamkos with a bomb of a pass from the defensive zone to the offensive zone. Stamkos skated in on Howard and ripped a shot past the netminder to tie the game once more.
The Lightning nearly took the lead when the puck bounced fortuitously to Erik Cernak at the side of the net but he rung the shot off the post. Shortly thereafter, the Wings retook the lead as Nielsen finished his hat trick beating Pasquale from the slot again. This time, Athanasiou threw the puck toward the crease from behind the net. It bounced off Pasquale and into the slot. Nielsen didn’t miss.
At the end of the period, the Bolts got a power play on an interference penalty to Mike Green. They got one good look for Stamkos before the horn but he couldn’t beat Howard and the penalty carried over to the third with the team still trailing 4-3.
Despite some good zone time, the Lightning couldn’t do much with the rest of the penalty. Brayden Point nearly got a good chance in the slot but couldn’t get a handle on the pass from Kucherov.
The goal that looked like it would end the game came moments later. Nyquist took a shot on that rush that trickled through Pasquale’s five hole. That was the first goal that could really be called soft but it was the fifth goal allowed on twenty shots, which normally makes it tough to win. But this wasn’t just any normal game.
After a period of 4 on 4 due to a penalty to Killorn for hooking and Athanasiou for embellishment, the teams got back to 5 on 5 and the Lightning cut the lead in half on a one-timer from J.T. Miller. Sergachev set him up with a pass in the right circle and the shot deflected off Luke Glendening and past Howard.
Immediately after the goal, Kucherov stole the puck and skated in cleanly on Howard but couldn’t finish. That miss would prove to be important later.
With six minutes left in the game, Ryan Callahan took an interference penalty. With Pasquale obviously having a difficult time keeping the puck out of the net, the situation seemed dire. Instead, Paquette made up for his earlier misses with a shorthanded goal to tie the game. Joseph started the play chasing down the puck in the offensive zone. It kicked out to the slot, Paquette picked it up, and fired it past Howard.
The game now tied, the Lightning continued to apply pressure but were careful to not get caught being overly aggressive. Just before the one-minute mark of the final period, Tyler Johnson took a tripping penalty in the offensive zone. The Lightning were able to survive until the end of regulation meaning the game would go to overtime with Detroit starting at 4 on 3.
The Bolts managed to kill the penalty without incident and eventually got a stoppage so that the teams could switch from 4 on 4 to the normal 3 on 3. The play was sloppy for much of the overtime with neither team seeming to value possession the way teams typically do in that situation. Multiple turnovers and bad passes led to choppy play on both sides.
Detroit got one good chance on a shot for Nyquist on the rush but Pasquale came up with the save. The Bolts best chance came with 30 seconds left as Ryan McDonagh went Full Beast Mode. He started in the defensive zone with the puck, fell down, got back up, kept possession, carried it all the way to the net, and slid the puck through Howard’s legs on the backhand. The puck died on the goal line at the back post and neither he nor Yanni Gourde could get a stick on it to claim the win.
He drew a penalty on Larkin on the play so the Lightning had 30 second of 4-on-3 to end the overtime. They weren’t able to get much going and the game went to a shootout.
Just so we’re all clear here, we’re talking about an AHL lifer playing his first game in net in the NHL being in a shootout against NHL shooters to decide the outcome of the game. The Wings went first. They started with Nielsen who already had a hat trick. Pasquale got his revenge and shut him down.
Hedman started for the Lightning and beat Howard to put the Bolts up one. Thomas Vanek went next for Detroit and again Pasquale shut the door. For all his struggles during the game, he was huge in the shootout. Head coach Jon Cooper called on Brayden Point to try to clinch the game but his stick broke on the shot keeping the score 1-0 after two shooters for each team.
Everything was set up for the fairy tale ending but this is real life and Nyquist beat Pasquale to even things up. Kucherov went next for the Bolts with the second point on his stick. And he wasn’t about to let it get away. He learned from his previous 1-on-1 matchup with Howard and beat him cleanly this time giving the team two points and Eddie Pasquale an NHL win.
This was easily one of the most fun games of the year. Lots of goals. Lots of excitement. A comeback. Overtime. A shootout with a goalie in his first NHL game.
The Bolts were the better team tonight by a wide margin. They just needed enough from their goalie to let them take advantage of how well they played. And he did exactly that. Lots of players played well tonight. But the one we’ll always remember is Eddie Pasquale. Let the legend be written.