The Lightning are confident that the wins will come soon. After all, the final stats in their last two games assure that they will after a hard-fought 3-0 win at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night.
After a strong effort on Tuesday at Nashville
in which captain Vincent Lecavalier led all skaters with three points on the score sheet, Tampa Bay outshot Detroit 30 to 22, including a 15-12 advantage in scoring chances, kept its perfect penalty kill streak in tact eliminating both Red Wing opportunities with the man advantage, won 24 faceoffs to Detroit’s 22, and tallied one more hit than the Red Wings in what proved to be a physical game on Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.
If it weren’t for an unlucky bounce off the post on a Steven Stamkos power play chance, the game would have been tied entering the middle frame into which the Bolts would have carried momentum.
But rather than the Lightning’s leading goal scorer, it was Drew Miller, Todd Bertuzzi and Patrick Eaves who scored, leading to a 3-0 Red Wings win which was Detroit’s fourth in a row.
Miller tallied the game’s first goal on a breakaway at 8:24 in the opening period by flipping a backhand into the net while taking flight over a sprawling Mike Smith who attempted to poke check the puck away from his former teammate. Miller, claimed by Detroit off waivers on Nov. 11, was close to being offside as he received a saucer pass from Brian Rafalski while streaking past two Lightning defenders across the blue line, but the goal stood for a 1-0 advantage entering the second period.
Stamkos nearly tied the contest with the man advantage in the waning seconds prior to the sounding of the first horn, but his wrist shot from the left circle nicked the post before redirecting back into the Bolts defensive zone.
“We had a lot of opportunities. We have to have our guys in the right positions, but it was late in the period, there’s some tough ice out there, but overall I thought it was a really good chance,” Lightning assistant coach Adam Oates said. “We have to tell our guys to hang in there and be patient.”
With possession along the right boards, Lukas Krajicek turned the puck over at the harsh marks allowing Bertuzzi to put Detroit up 2-0 at 6:48 in the third after tapping in a feed from Tomas Holmstrom in the low slot.
Just over three minutes later, the Red Wings extended the lead to three after catching the Lightning in the midst of a line change in the neutral zone, as Eaves beat Smith one-on-one from the slot by wrapping the puck around the Lightning goaltender’s left skate and into the net.
Detroit played the final two periods without Henrik Zetterberg after he took a hit from Mattias Ohlund in the first period. The Swedish forward is the latest to join the long list of those who have missed time this season for the Red Wings, who entered the contest with eight players out due to injury.
“My game is to play physical and I have no other choice, otherwise I’d be looking pretty bad out there,” Ohlund said of the hit. “It looked to me like a clean hit, but there are so many fellow Swedes and so many friends of mine on that team. Hopefully he will come back soon.”
The Bolts were also without forward Steve Downie, who suffered an upper body injury on Tuesday at Nashville, and defenseman Victor Hedman, suffered a lower body injury during practice on Wednesday. Both are listed as day-to-day.
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