The Tampa Bay Lightning hit the road for their first multi-game road trip of the season on Monday night, beginning with a showdown against the rival Detroit Red Wings.
Having won three in a row, the Lightning made their first ever visit to the brand new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The Red Wings entered the night on a two-game winning streak after taking three out of four on their most recent road trip. Both teams entered the contest sharing identical 4-1 records.
From the opening faceoff, the Red Wings began applying pressure to the Lightning. Detroit earned a power play opportunity just 1:53 into the game following an interference penalty on Alex Killorn. However, Tampa Bay survived, killing the penalty. At the 9:15 mark, Tyler Johnson got a breakaway during another Red Wings power play, putting the Lightning on top 1-0 with a shorthanded goal.
Nikita Kucherov continued his hot start to the season by tallying a power play goal at the 10:56 mark, putting Tampa Bay up 2-0. He became just the fourth player in the last 30 years to score a goal in each of his team’s first six games. The others to accomplish that feat are Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux, and Keith Tkachuk. Those two goals, combined with the stellar play of Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, helped the Lightning maintain their two-goal lead going into the intermission.
A bizarre sequence led to the Red Wings’ first goal of the evening.
Justin Abdelkader found himself on a breakaway, where he was hooked from behind by Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. Abdelkader then slid into Vasilevskiy. Darren Helm pounced on the rebound and scored, but the Lightning challenged for goalie interference. Following the review, the officials determined there was goalie interference, waiving the goal off. However, Hedman was whistled for hooking, and Abdelkader was awarded a penalty shot. Abdelkader slipped the puck between Vasilevksiy’s legs at the 2:30 mark, cutting Tampa Bay’s lead to 2-1.
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That goal gave Detroit life, as they were more aggressive, controlled play and had generated more shots. Although Vasilevskiy continued to play very well, the Red Wings kept the pressure on, eventually tying the game 2-2 on a Mike Green goal with 3:58 left in the second period.
Heading into the third period, Tampa Bay needed a spark after a lackluster second period. That spark came in the form of another Kucherov goal.
The Lightning’s star winger scored his seventh goal of the season at the 1:47 mark when he got his stick on a loose puck and poked it past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard for a 3-2 lead. Tampa Bay stepped up and improved their play in the final period. The Red Wings also made a late push when they pulled Howard for an extra skater. However, Vasilevskiy made a few keys saves down the stretch and the Lightning held on for a 3-2 victory, their eighth straight over Detroit.
The Lightning continue their three-game road trip on Tuesday night in New Jersey Devils. The contest will be nationally-televised on NBCSN. Puck drops at 7:30 pm.
Three Stars of the Game
1st Star: Nikita Kucherov – Scored two goals, including the game-winner. Now has seven goals in six games.
2nd Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Finished with 29 saves on 31 shots in his sixth straight start to begin the season.
3rd Star: Tyler Johnson – Put the Lightning up 1-0 with a shorthanded goal.
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