Tampa Bay Lightning Experience First Hiccup in Loss to Detroit Red Wings


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The Tampa Bay Lightning were off to one of their best starts since 2010-11, sporting a 3-0-0 record heading into Tuesday nights nationally televised matchup with the Detroit Red Wings at legendary Joe Louis Arena.

Unfortunately that was where the winning streak ended, as the Red Wings took full advantage of a worn out team playing their second game in just over 24 hours and third in four days, defeating the Bolts 3-1.

In a change from previous games this season, the Lightning came out firing early on. They held a 7-1 shot advantage at one point and looked poised to break through at any moment.  That didn’t occur, however, thanks in large part to Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard thwarting numerous opportunities.

A penalty to Jonathan Drouin late in the opening period sparked Detroit who tallied the final seven shots, taking momentum into the dressing room. Netminder Ben Bishop made certain it was nothing more, as the two teams entered the first intermission scoreless.

Entering the second period, both teams seemed content with passing the puck so many times it ended up with the opposing team after awhile. That made goaltending both easy and hard, depending on whether you prefer more or less work.

Near the end of period 2, special teams took center stage. It all began with approximately two and a half minutes remaining when Lightning defenseman Matt Carle went for the puck and got his stick caught in the skates of Gustav Nyquist. Penalty, yes, but what happened immediately after ultimately turned the game in the Red Wings favor.

With Carle attempting to get his stick free from Nyquist, the Red Wings forward held onto the stick preventing any sort of breakout by the Bolts. He then proceeded to shove Carle away, drawing the ire of Victor Hedman and a few others. That resulted in some pushing and shoving, but no more penalties were handed out as a result.

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Seconds later, with Carle in the box, Nyquist unleashed a rocket one timer past Bishop to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead. About two minutes later, the Lightning got a crack at the man advantage. They got a single shot off before the horn to conclude period 2.

The final period began with 1:53 of power play time to try evening things up on the scoreboard. Despite plenty of puck movement and some good looks, Howard wouldn’t budge. He turned aside every shot faced in that early barrage.

Right after that power play opportunity fell by the wayside, the Lightning received another one. This one wasn’t nearly as dangerous, with the Red Wings able to beat Tampa Bay skaters to the puck and then throw it down ice.

Once the penalty parade subsided, the Red Wings wasted little time padding their lead, with veteran Henrik Zetterberg scoring the games second goal at the 8:25 mark of the third period.

Nearly two and a half minutes later, the Bolts put an end to Howard’s extended shutout streak. Drouin collected his own rebound and found Ryan Callahan, who quickly shot the puck over the netminders shoulder and into the net. 2-1 Red Wings.

The Tampa Bay Lightning put together a few good shifts following the score but it wasn’t quite enough. The Red Wings were able to extend their lead with Bishop pulled though, as Kyle Quincey won a faceoff and shot the puck toward the empty net. Jason Garrison gave chase but ran out of gas as it rolled into the vacated net. 3-1 Red Wings.

Personally, I feel the Tampa Bay Lightning played as well as can be expected given what they were up against. Three games in four days is difficult enough to handle no matter where they’re played, but when each one is on the road against divisional foes it’s harder than anyone can imagine. The Bolts main goal this season was to improve their road record. So far, so good, as they collected four of a possible six points to begin the road portion of their schedule.

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Are there areas for improvement? Sure. Special teams must be able to come through at key moments, something the Lightning have struggled with early on. The penalty kill is a fairly big concern, as they’ve allowed the opposing team to score four power play goals in the past couple of games.

Moving forward, the Tampa Bay Lightning head home for two, beginning Thursday night against the new look Dallas Stars at Amalie Arena. Puck drop’s set for 7:30 p.m. EST.

What are your thoughts regarding the Lightning’s first hiccup of the 2015-16 season? Are you at all concerned by the penalty kill? Do you think the Red Wings could be the biggest threat to the Bolts Atlantic Division title hopes this season? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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