Detroit Red Wings use second-period flurry to end long losing streak in Tampa Bay
It took a while, 10 years actually, but the Red Wings did it.
They actually won a Sunday regular season game in Tampa, ending a 17-game losing streak on February 17, 2011 in which they beat Blitz 5-1.
That may not be the most shocking aspect of them all.
Not the victory itself, but how dominant the wings (13-22-5) were to win it.
BOX SCORE: Red Wings 5, Lightning 1
Goalkeeper Thomas Greiss was great, making 27 saves and a good chunk of them, with the game still tight in the first 30 minutes. The Wings broke it with three goals and four shots in just under three minutes too late in the second half.
So much for the long, long losses in Tampa.
“It’s huge,” said Greiss of the win. “They won the Stanley Cup last year and they are one of the best teams in the league. It’s always special to beat guys like that.”
Now the Wings have won games in the Amalie Arena playoffs during this stretch, and obviously different squads. If you only go to a particular arena once or twice a season, those things tend to lengthen.
There are many variables.
“If you hadn’t told us, we would have no idea whether we were being completely honest with you,” said coach Jeff Blashill of the 10-year defeat in Tampa. “But we didn’t beat these guys much so it feels good to have success against them.
“Mostly the fact that they are as good a team as they are, the defending champions of the Stanley Cup, but in the end my goal is to play right and how the process went. Our process was pretty good.”
Valtteri Filppula (third goal, 4:05 p.m.), Michael Rasmussen (second goal, 4:34 p.m.) and Marc Staal (third goal, 6:58 p.m.) beat third Lightning goalkeeper Christopher Gibson and quickly led 1-0 to Wings 4-0.
Dylan Larkin opened the power play in the first half, his seventh goal, and Darren Helm had an empty net (Helm’s second goal) to win.
“Everyone just played very well,” said Rasmussen, a young center who stood out in both games over the weekend against Tampa. “We clogged the neutral zone really well and stayed with our system. We played pretty well.
“We can play with anyone, as long as we play our game and we’re all on the same page and working hard. We have a good group of people and a lot of great players and it shows. It was a big win.”
Gibson made his first NHL start since March 30, 2018, when he was with the Islanders.
And ironically, Gibson relieved Greiss on Gibson’s last NHL appearance in 2019 when they were both with the Islanders.
Greiss, who finally had to score some goals (Greiss had scored an average of 1.5 per game), saved Steven Stamkos enormously at the beginning of the second half to achieve a 1-0 lead at Wings.
Tampa (26-10-2) skated in a three-on-one race, Stamkos got the puck on point and shot a shot that rolled Greiss’ stick into the stands and summed up the afternoon for both teams.
“Hit the shaft and go out and go in the other direction and we’ll score,” said Greiss. “(If it is) 1-1, a completely different game.
“We played a really good game. We didn’t give them much, played tight through the neutral zone and a tough control game. Lots of blocks. The defense was unreal and our penalty shootouts blocked shots. The engagement and the fight (was) real Well).”
Victor Hedman scored in the third half to keep the flash from going off.
The Red Wings have held their own against defending Stanley Cup Champion Lightning this season. The wings are 2-3-1 in six games, with one win and one overtime against Tampa at Little Caesars Arena.
“We’re pretty good defensively (Sunday) and we have to be to give ourselves a chance, especially against this group (Tampa),” said Blashill.