DETROIT, Mich. – The Tampa Bay Lightning entered the game with a bad history at Joe Louis Arena. Valtteri Filppula was making his return. Ryan Malone was going to skate in his 600th game. Steve Yzerman, well, all you need to say is the name when you're in Detroit.
Whatever storyline you chose, the only thing that mattered to Tampa Bay was coming out of the contest versus their Atlantic Division rival with a win. And that they did, defeating the Detroit Red Wings, 3-2, in overtime Saturday night.
"We sit there as a staff and the organization hasn't won too often here, but we don't want to put that in our guys heads," head coach Jon cooper said. "That was in the past. New staff, new team, moving forward we need to win games here, if we want to make it to the playoffs and tonight was a good start for us."
The first period brought a total turnaround from Thursday's game for the Bolts. Despite giving the Red Wings an early lead at 3:51 of the first, the Lightning responded, nearly unphased, with a tally of their own at the midway point of the opening frame. First, Steven Stamkos' pass deep in the defensive zone was intercepted by the Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg right in front of Ben Bishop's net. Zetterberg launched the puck by Bishop for a 1-0 lead.
Six minutes later however, Matt Carle sent the puck to the boards behind the net, which Malone was able to pick up. Skating around the net, Malone attempted to score on the wraparound, but Howard was able to stop the puck. Malone stayed committed though and wristed a shot by the Detroit netminder off his own rebound at 10:11 to tie the game at one. The marker was Malone's second of the season and first since October 15.
"I shook off the rust with that one," Malone said. "That's been the longest drought I've been in so hopefully it won't happen again."
The Red Wings stepped-up the offensive pressure in the middle period, adding 15 shots, including nine on 6:48 of power-play time. Yet Bishop answered the call for the Bolts, stopping a number of breakaways from a dangerous list of Detroit forwards. The Lightning gained the lead while they were at it too.
After a huge penalty kill, Tampa Bay brought the puck back into the Red Wings' zone and Hedman made a pass to Steven Stamkos from the left side of the blue line. Stamkos immediately sent the puck past Howard for a 2-1 lead at 12:50 of the second. The tally extended Stamkos' goal streak to six straight games and also tied him with Alex Steen for the league lead in goals with 14.
"When a little adversity hit, we were down, it was 5-on-3, to kill it off and I was joking with Thompson, 'you put us down, four-minute minor and then you come out with a plus, you better pat Stamkos on the back for that one,'" Cooper said. "That was the turning point in the game, they had a chance to take the lead and for us to come out on top like that, I was really happy with our effort."
With 4:12 remaining in the contest the Red Wings managed to tie the game at two with a blast from Zetterberg that flew by Bishop and into the top corner of the net for a 2-2 game. The score was Zetterberg's second of the night and eventually forced extra time.
Teddy Purcell came through for the Lightning in overtime, however, as the Bolts went on to win just their second game in Detroit and also notching their fourth straight victory.
"It felt great to get the game-winner," Purcell said. "It felt like every game I was getting two or three looks, but couldn't buy one. Anytime you're in a slump like that it's great to break out, especially when you get your team two big points."
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay immediately heads to Boston after Saturday's game to prepare for a special 1 p.m. puck drop against the Bruins on Veteran's Day. It is also the first game of back-to-back contests that also features the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.