By Stefan Kubus –
DETROIT – You won’t find a single player from the Tampa Bay Lightning team that last beat the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena who is still in the NHL today; they have all since retired.
That’s because the last time the Lightning beat the Red Wings in Detroit was on Jan. 12, 1994.
The Bolts (12-4-0) handed the Red Wings (9-5-4) their fifth-consecutive loss at home Saturday night, a 3-2 decision. Teddy Purcell scored the overtime winner for Tampa Bay. Henrik Zetterberg scored a pair of goals – his ninth and tenth of the season – in the loss.
“Obviously, we wanted the two points at home,” Zetterberg said. “Somehow we can’t really find a way to get it right now.”
Saturday night’s tilt marked the first of five meetings this season between the new Atlantic Division rivals. Detroit entered the game with an impressive, all-time record of 25-5-2-0 in 32 meetings, including a 13-1-1-0 record at Joe Louis Arena against the Bolts.
In the opening frame, Zetterberg began the scoring early, capitalizing on a bad Steven Stamkos giveaway, to make it 1-0 in favor of Detroit at 3:51.
Seven minutes later, Jimmy Howard stopped Ryan Malone’s wrap-around attempt, but poor defensive coverage allowed Malone to bang home his own rebound over a sprawled-out Howard to knot things up at one.
Nearly halfway through the second stanza, the Red Wings had a terrific chance to take the lead, with a 5-on-3 opportunity, but failed to convert.
“That’s where we lost the game,” Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “You get one, maybe two, there and it’s a different game. The power play is something we have to get clicking here.”
Moments after the Lightning killed off the 5-on-3, Stamkos made up for the first-period giveaway by lighting the lamp for his 14th of the season, beating Howard with a laser from the high slot for the 2-1 lead.
“Stamkos is one of those guys, you give him a little bit of room and the puck’s gonna go in,” Kronwall said. “He had a few too many chances tonight… He’s such a good player; if you give him too many good chances, he’s going to score on one.”
Zetterberg potted his second of the game and 10th of the season, with only 4:12 to go in the third period, unleashing a slap shot from the right circle.
In the extra frame, Purcell was left all alone in front of Howard. He took a pass in the slot and buried it top shelf to seal the Lightning victory.
“For 60 minutes, it was too much watching hockey at times today,” Kronwall said of the loss.