DETROIT – Making their first trip to Joe Louis Arena since March, 2003 the Tampa Bay Lightning wrapped up the tail end of back-to-back games as they faced off against the Detroit Red Wings. As the Lightning closed out a two-game road trip they fell to the Red Wings, 4-2.
Marc Denis made 35 saves in his third start of the season but Detroit prevailed as four different skaters posted goals in the contest. Brad Richards and Mathieu Darche connected for Tampa Bay.
Jiri Hudley led the Red Wings with one goal and one assist on the night, opening the scoring 3:24 into the first period. After defenseman Chris Chelios shot a hard pass to Hudler at the left side of the night, the Detroit center redirected the puck for his sixth goal of the season.
With the goal coming seconds after the expiration of the first of two Red Wings power players in the contest, Denis went on to post 16 saves in the opening period. Within minutes of Hudler’s goal Denis covered the puck after a shot by Pavel Datsyuk rang off the left post and dropped into the crease.
A little more than four minutes into the second period Datsyuk notched his eighth goal of the season as Detroit skated with the man advantage. With Tomas Holmstrom creating a screen in front of the net, Niklas Lidstrom fired a shot from the blue line. Datsyuk put the rebound to the left of Denis to build a two-goal lead.
At 7:39 of the second Tomas Kopecky converted a long pass by Andreas Lilja, cutting to the net to put the puck over Denis for his first goal of the season.
Moments later Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg looked to build the Detroit lead, but were denied by a right pad save. After Holmstrom passed back to Zetterberg from the slot, the Red Wings forward fired off a quick shot that Denis kicked away.
Richard scored for the Lightning at 12:03 of the period to reduce the Detroit lead. Jan Hlavac gained control of the puck behind the net and fed the puck to Martin St. Louis below the goal line. St. Louis fed a pass towards the left faceoff circle where Richards put a shot over the left glove side against goaltender Chris Osgood.
After a shot by Zetterberg rang off the post on the following shift, the Lightning went on to get strong chances late in the period as they looked to close in on Detroit. A Vaclav Prospal shot deflected off Osgood and the post before Vincent Lecavalier tried to convert a Tampa Bay power play.
With Niklas Kronvall serving a slashing minor, Lecavalier skated into the offensive zone and cheated Osgood to the edge of his crease. Making his way around the open net Lecavalier made a centering pass to Chris Gratton, but the Lightning forward was unable to get his stick on the puck. Moments later Osgood held off a slap shot by Lecavalier from the right point.
Kronvall opened the third period with a breakaway attempt out of the penalty box, but Denis grabbed the long shot for the save.
Prospal responded with a quick shot for the Lightning, shooting through a group of players at the front of the net after a rebound bounced out to the right faceoff circle. Osgood cradled the puck on the play before covering a deflection by Gratton off a shot from the point by Mike Lundin.
Although Daniel Clearly connected on the rebound of a shot by Brett Lebda for his eighth goal of the season, Darche eventually connected to cut the Red Wings lead in half.
With a little more than three minutes remaining in the contest Darche scored his second goal on a deflection in front of Osgood. Prospal passed back to Shane O’Brien at the blue line where the Lightning defender fired a hard shot. Darche created the screen in front of the Detroit net to get a piece of the puck for the score, but it wouldn’t be enough for the comeback.
The Red Wings out-shot the Lightning 39-23 in the contest as Prospal led all skaters with eight shots on goal. Denis stopped a season-high 35 shots in his first start since November 1 against the New York Islanders.
Tampa Bay returns to the St. Pete Times Forum to kick off a four-game home stand on Saturday, December 1 (7:30p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) against the Boston Bruins. With an 8-3-1 record through their first 12 games on home ice, the Lightning are set to play 10 of their 14 December contests at Tampa Bay.