In recent Detroit Red Wings history, one of the toughest teams to get a win against has been the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Detroit Red Wings could not figure out how to beat them for many years. It seemed like any time they would get close to getting a win, Tampa Bay would find a way to get one more goal for the win or pull their goalie late in the third to tie it up and win in overtime. I looked at the recent history between the two teams to see how they have matched up.
In the first round of the 2015-2016 playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings faced off against the Lightning. The first two games were played in Tampa Bay, where the Red Wings lost 3-2 and 5-2, respectively. Losing the first two games of a playoff series on the road isn’t a big deal if you can get the next two at home. Game three was a huge win for the Red Wings as they shut out the Bolts 2-0 at home and had some hope to get back into the series. Tampa Bay then proceeded to win the next two games and knock the Red Wings out of what has been their last appearance in the NHL postseason.
That win in game three of that series on 4/17/16 ended up being the last one they would have against Tampa Bay for quite a while. The loss in game four would be the first in a 15-game losing streak that would last all the way until the terrible 2019-2020 season. After losing to Tampa Bay for what seemed like forever, the Red Wings pulled off an unlikely 5-4 shoutout win at home on 3/8/20 in what ended up being the next to last game of the season for Detroit as the season was stopped after their next game due to the pandemic. For almost four years straight, the Red Wings lost to Tampa Bay.
In the 2020-2021 season, the NHL changed up the divisions, and teams only played other teams in the same division to limit travel. That season, the Red Wings ended up playing Tampa Bay eight times and ended up with a 3-4-1 record, which was by far the most wins they had been able to manage in a while. This season was so weird that it was hard to count, and I didn’t feel like you could take much from the results, as just about everything was upside down. The 2021-2022 season matchups against Tampa Bay didn’t go well for the Red Wings as they lost the first three games of the season before pulling off a win on the road near the end of the season.
The Detroit Red Wings have been beating Tampa Bay more consistently.
Last season, the Red Wings first game of the season series against Tampa Bay started off great; they picked up a 4-2 win on the road, keeping the Bolts off the scoreboard until late in the third period and sealing the win off with a couple of empty net goals. In the second matchup of the season, the Red Wings played even better. They matched Tampa Bay goal for goal heading into the third period tied 3-3, then scored two straight to pull away before sealing the game with a couple empty net goals for a 7-4 win. Quite a few times in previous seasons, they would give up a tying goal when playing Tampa Bay 6-on-5. It was great to see them hold on for the wins.
The third matchup of the season did not go the way the Red Wings would like as they lost at home to Tampa Bay in a 3-0 shutout. Even though this game was a loss, the Red Wings actually played a really good game, outshooting Tampa Bay 45-18 with lots of great scoring chances. Unfortunately, Andrei Vasilevskiy played out of his mind that night and showed everyone why he is one of the best goaltenders in the league, while Ville Husso didn’t have his best night in net. Sadly, the last game of the season series, which was a 5-0 loss in Tampa Bay, is hard to count since the Red Wings got smoked in the last four games of the season and appeared to have just given up at that point.
To start off the 2023-2024 season, Tampa Bay was in Detroit for their home opener. This was a great one for the Red Wings. They went back and forth scoring, ending up with a 5-4 lead late in the third before Moritz Seider scored the empty net goal in the last second. This game was similar to the opening night match-up against Tampa Bay a couple of years earlier, it was a high-scoring game with lots of back and forth. This time, though, instead of giving up two empty net goals and losing in overtime, the Red Wings were able to stop the 6-on-5 assault of Tampa Bay and take the win.
In the second matchup this season, there were not so many pucks in the net as the first matchup, although the result was the same. The Red Wings were able to take a 2-1 win against Tampa while stopping the strong push from Tampa in the third period again. This time, Vasilevskiy was in net for Tampa Bay, and the Red Wings still managed the win. Alex Lyon was in net for the Red Wings and put in a great performance, making 27 saves. He was especially strong in the third period stopping all 18 shots and silencing three Tampa Bay power play opportunities.
I know that Tampa Bay isn’t the same team this season that they were when they won 62 games a couple of seasons ago. They still have some of the best players in the league and one of the best goaltenders, so they aren’t pushovers by any means. For such a long time, they had the Red Wings number and beat them consistently and in the same way a lot of the time. It’s been a good sign of progress for the Red Wings to hold on to wins against Tampa Bay that they likely would have lost in previous seasons. We’ll have to see how they do in the last game of the season series coming up on April 1st. I’m predicting a win and the first season sweep of Tampa Bay in a really long time!