Tampa Bay Lightning Defeat Detroit Red Wings; Win Series 4-1 to Advance to Second Round
The Detroit Red Wings continued their record streak of 25 consecutive post season appearances, but that playoff berth was short lived as the Tampa Bay Lightning took just five games to eliminate them. This series was closer than meets the eye, however, as there were three one-goal games, all of which were won by Tampa. Detroit’s lone victory was a 2-0 shutout in game 3 at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit had a slightly more successful power play and faceoff percentage during the regular season, but the Lightning had the advantage in all other statistical categories, which played a big part in their success in the one score games. The biggest stats in favor of Tampa were the production coming from the line of Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Nikita Kucherov. The trio combined for 10 of the teams 12 total goals throughout the series, including three of the four game winners.
Contrary to the better-than-average success that the Wings’ power play experienced during the regular season, they struck only once in this series in 25 attempts. The relentless penalty kill of the Lightning was another big factor in the outcome of this series. Right at the heart of that was goaltender Ben Bishop, who never surrendered more than two goals in any game and closed the series out with a game 5 shutout in front of the home crowd. Included in the 34-save shutout performance were three separate breakaway opportunities for the Wings, but Bishop answered the call on all three occasions, stopping Riley Sheahan, Dylan Larkin, and Darren Helm.
What’s more impressive about the Bolts’ performance in this series was the ability to overcome injuries. Losing a player or two in the playoffs is to be expected, but losing your captain and best player, Steven Stamkos, as well as top defenseman Anton Stralman, is more than some teams could withstand. Instead, the Lightning found some unlikely contributors, which should build their confidence in the depth of their team going forward.
Finally, the Lightning seemed to get better as the games went on. Winning one goal games consistently is not an easy task, but doing it in the third period is downright impressive and that’s what the Bolts did. Outscoring the Wings 6-1 in the third stanza throughout the series, they never lost their cool when the game was tied late. If one or two of those games had gone the other way, we could be having a totally different take on this series and they may even be facing a game 7.
Instead, the Lightning did what they needed to do to get the job done and now they can sit back and rest and watch the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders series, preparing for whoever emerges victorious.
Better Luck Next Time, Detroit
For the Wings, they can hold their heads high as many pundits had them dead to rights with about a month to go in the regular season. It seemed they were sputtering, while the Flyers were charging and that they would be caught. What was unexpected was the tumble in the standings of the Boston Bruins over the final month, rendering the race between the Wings and Flyers useless as they both ended up clinching playoff berths, leaving the B’s as the odd man out.
After the 25th consecutive playoff appearance, the Wings have a few questions to answer, namely whether or not longtime star Pavel Datsyuk has played his last game with a winged wheel on his chest. He is undecided as to whether he will continue his NHL career or travel across the pond to play in the KHL in his native Russia to be closer to his family. No matter what he decides, the Wings have a bright future with young dynamic players like Larkin, Helm, as well as Gustav Nyquist and Petr Mrazek between the pipes.
(Tampa Bay Lightning Defeat Detroit Red Wings)