Blake Coleman scored 16 seconds into the game, Mikhail Sergachev added another goal early in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Detroit Red Wings, 2-1, on Sunday at Little Caesars Arena.
Tampa Bay’s Christopher Gibson had 22 saves, filling in for star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the team has a plan for how to use Vasilevskiy and that included scratching him for a second straight game.
Jonathan Bernier gave up a goal on the game’s first shot and finished with 40 saves for the Red Wings.
Filip Zadina scored from the left circle on a one-timer with 6:23 left in the second, trimming Detroit’s deficit to one.
Bernier kept the Red Wings in the game with a slew of saves, and Tampa Bay was called for three late penalties.
With 5:54 left in the third, the Lightning had three players in the box. Detroit did not take advantage of a 5-on-3 situation or an extended stretch with an extra skater.
The Lightning are 5-0-1 in their last six games, pulling within two points of Central Division-leading Carolina and into a tie with Florida.
A day after Detroit shut out Tampa Bay 1-0 in an eight-round shootout, the defending Stanley Cup champions appeared to be very motivated to start strong against a banged-up rebuilding team.
Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek turned the puck over behind Bernier to Tampa Bay center Barclay Goodrow, and he set up Coleman for a one-timer in the opening sequence of the game. Sergachev took a shot through traffic from just inside the blue line and it went between Bernier’s pads 1:09 into the second.
The Lightning improved to 25-0 when entering the third period with the lead, remaining the NHL’s only team that is undefeated with a two-period lead.
On the move
Detroit recalled forward Joe Veleno from the taxi squad and put him in the lineup for the fourth time this season.
Tampa Bay returns home for two games against defending Western Conference champion Dallas, which is three points behind Nashville for the division’s fourth and final spot in the playoffs. The Lightning host the Stars on Wednesday and Friday before closing the regular season at Florida on the road Saturday and next Monday.
Detroit ends the season on Friday and Saturday against Columbus in a series that might determine which team finishes last in the division. The Red Wings failed to earn a spot in the postseason for a fifth straight year, their longest drought since 1979-83.