Wings Postgame: Struck by Lightning…again

The Detroit Red Wings came into Thursday night’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on a five-game losing streak. The Red Wings had a chance at the buzzer to tie the game and send it into overtime, but they couldn’t convert and lost 3-2 to the Lightning to increase the losing streak to six games, falling to 4-6-1.

The Rundown

The Lightning came out of the gate hot, using their speed to draw a penalty just 2:19 into the game. The Red Wings killed that penalty without allowing a shot. Detroit got a power play of its own but wasn’t able to generate much of an attack until the end of the man advantage.

Later in the first, Justin Abdelkader was called for a slashing penalty, and the Red Wings scored their league-tying third shorthanded goal of the season. Frans Nielsen picked off a Steven Stamkos cross-ice pass and, on the ensuing 2-on-1, buried a wrister past Andrei Vasilevskiy to take the 1-0 lead.

Later in the period, the Red Wings were whistled for too many men on the ice, and the Lightning made them pay. Kucherov scored his league-leading 12th goal of the season against Jimmy Howard from his favorite spot on the ice: the top of the right faceoff circle.

The Lightning held a 14-9 lead in shots after one.

In the second period, the Red Wings got an early power play after J.T. Brown accidentally shot the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. But, as with most power-play opportunities this season, the Red Wings didn’t generate many scoring chances.

About four minutes later, the Red Wings took their fourth penalty of the game, as Niklas Kronwall was called for interference; the Red Wings managed to kill that penalty.

Past the halfway point in the second period, the march to the penalty box continued. Mikhail Sergachev cross-checked Anthony Mantha, who retaliated with a couple of flying fists. The result was matching minor penalties, which gave us 4-on-4 hockey.

Less than a minute later, Gustav Nyquist took an interference penalty, which gave Tampa Bay a 4-on-3 opportunity. The Red Wings killed both the 4 on 3 and the 5 on 4 to keep the game knotted at 1-1.

The Lightning added 12 shots in the second period to the Red Wings’ 10, giving Tampa Bay a 26-19 advantage after two tied at 1-1.

Early in the third period, Nielsen was called for slashing, which put the Lightning on their sixth power play. Tampa Bay took advantage, as Kucherov made a cross-ice pass to Stamkos, who one-timed it past Howard to put the Lighting up 2-1.

About midway through the third period, Chris Kunitz was called for slashing, which put the Red Wings on their third power play.

Once again, the Red Wings weren’t able to cash in.

Late in the period, two Red Wings defenders got caught below the goal line, leaving Brayden Point all alone in the slot. Point made the Red Wings pay and put the Lightning up 3-1.

The Red Wings made a push late. Nielsen scored his second goal of the game on the power play, receiving a pass in the slot from Nyquist to cut the deficit to 3-2.

A Kucherov holding penalty gave the Red Wings a power play with less than two minutes remaining. However, Vasilevskiy held strong to secure the win for the Lightning.

Tampa Bay and Detroit each had 12 shots in the third period. For the game, the Lightning outshot the Red Wings 38-31, including 69-46 in shot attempts.

The Stats

The Red Wings started slow, and the Lightning continued to use their speed to generate offensive opportunities. Howard was solid for the Red Wings, making 35 saves. He didn’t have to stand on his head, but he made some key saves and kept the Red Wings within striking distance all night long.

Ultimately, it came down to the Red Wings taking too many penalties and giving the best power-play unit in the league too many opportunities.

Motor City MVP

Tonight’s Motor City MVP is Nielsen for scoring the Red Wings’ only two goals. He had great defensive awareness on the penalty kill, intercepting a cross-ice pass and turning it up ice for a 2-on-1 opportunity to score the game’s first goal.

On his second goal, he found a soft spot on the right side of the slot and placed the shot perfectly on the left side for his second goal of the night.

What’s Next?

The Red Wings face the Florida Panthers on Saturday before returning home to Little Caesars Arena to host the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. After Tuesday’s tilt, the Red Wings hit the road for a three-game western Canada road trip.

Game time on Saturday is 7:30 p.m. and you can catch the game on Fox Sports Detroit. As always, Brock Seguin will have the pre-game report early Saturday afternoon on WingsNation.com.