Lightning, Bishop checkmate injured Red Wings; TB: 2 – DET: 1


Dec 12, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (56) is congratulated by teammates after he scored against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit managed to come out of the gate strong, limiting their opponents to six shots in the first period, none of which were very dangerous. Former Red Wings Valtteri Filppula had what looked to be a good scoring chance cut short by a trip from Jonathan Ericsson, but couldn’t get the shot off. The story was completely different on the other end of the ice, however, as Detroit fired many quality chances on Tampa netminder Ben Bishop (who has a .929 save percentage and a 2.11 GAA – damn), only to watch shot after shot get turned away. Funnily enough, the only one who could best Bishop was Kyle Quincey, who followed his own point shot off the rush to tap the rebound in the net to give his team the lead. The goal was his first in 51 games…I’m so glad we’re paying him more than 3.5 mil. Nyquist got the primary assist on the goal, and Franzen received the secondary, giving him 18 points in his past 15 games.

It took Tampa more than a whole period to respond, but not for lack of trying. Throughout the rest of the game the Lightning were far better at generating chances – they outshot the Wings 21-16 over the final two periods. Two chances stood out, both by Martin St. Louis; one was a shorthanded breakaway on which he missed the net, and the other was ended by a hold from, again, Jonathan Ericsson. Nikita Kucherov was the one who finally tied it with only 43 seconds remaining, off a screened shot from an awful turnover by Kyle Quincey.

The third period was full of great chances for both teams, but Gustavsson and Bishop both came up huge. Bishop made a couple of amazing no-look saves on Alfredsson and Miller, and Gustavsson shut down a seemingly unending series of odd man rushes. However, nothing came to fruition for either team, despite a pair of powerplays for each team. For the third straight game in a row, the Wings headed to overtime, this time with the remainder of a penalty to kill off – thankfully they succeeded in that regard. Detroit did a great job of controlling the play after the penalty kill – most of the overtime period was played in Tampa’s end. But, just like in the third, nothing could be decided, and the teams went to a shootout.

Gustavsson stopped Teddy Purcell on the first shot, who tried to sneak a snapshot between his legs. Sadly, Datsyuk followed with probably his saddest shootout attempt yet – Bishop didn’t have to move to stop the low-stick side shot. Thankfully, Gustavsson came up big, using great lateral movement to stop Tampa’s young star Nikita Kucherov. Alfredsson decided to follow with another sad attempt with a slap shot…this was easily one of the more boring shootout’s I’ve seen. Filppula tried to make it more interesting, but was stopped easily again by Gustavsson…same story with Tatar. I apologize, I’m writing this paragraph in real time…I’m just gonna stop until someone scores. And who else would deliver but Marty St. Louis? This goal ended up being the winner, and the Wings left with two straight losses in extra time…AND lost their 11th straight shootout.

My Wings player of the game tonight is Tomas Tatar. He had a great chance in overtime and a few in regulation, and constantly aggravated the opposition with his speed, hands, and a ridiculous amount of energy. I wish Babcock would give him ice time over someone like Abdelkader or Bertuzzi – I get that they’re big, but they haven’t been producing or even playing close to Tatar’s level. Honorable mention goes to Jakub Kindl – he was constantly making good plays and played solid defense in all areas of the ice.

The goat of the game has to be Jonathan Ericsson…I’m surprised, as it’s usually hard to displace Cleary, Samuelsson, or Quincey from this position, but Ericsson was bad. He made too many hiccups with the puck and let two breakaways behind him along with quite a few other missed coverage assignments. I get that he was injured early in the game, but if he’s injured enough to affect his play this much, he’s too injured to play.

Thanks for reading, as always! @rollin_on_D