The Red Wings gave another Stanley Cup contender all sort of fits Friday, but this time came up short.
The Wings went into Tampa Friday and lost 3-1 to the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning.
Tampa defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, on the power play, scored his fourth goal of the season at 10:21 of the third period, snapping a 1-1 tie. Sergachev’s shot from inside the circle beat goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, who was completely screened by Tampa forward Corey Perry.
It was the Lightning’s second power-play goal of the evening, Brayden Point opening the game’s scoring in the second period.
Steven Stamkos ended the scoring with an empty net goal with two seconds left in the game.
“We played a good hockey game, we started real well, had some chances, a lot of two-on-one’s,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “We have to be a little more selfish and shoot the puck. We know the team they are and what they do. It’s frustrating right now, it’s a tough feeling, but we have to bounce back.
“We can’t keep up coming up short. We have to find ways to win games like this.”
Robby Fabbri scored the Wings’ goal, while goaltender Nedeljkovic put together his second consecutive strong start with 35 saves.
The Wings fell below .500 (24-25-6), with another game Saturday at division leading Florida. Still, playing the Lightning as tough as the Wings did and coming away with no points, did hurt.
“It’s hard to continue to come into this building and not get the results,” Larkin said. “Everyone knows they’re an elite team in this league and they have a lot of firepower. Our first period was probably the best period of hockey we’ve played here in a long time. We have to build on that.”
Tampa (36-12-6), who lost Thursday against Pittsburgh, have yet to lose two consecutive regulation time losses this season. Goaltender Brian Elliott stopped 23 shots while giving Andrei Vasilevskiy (much to the Wings’ delight, Vasileveskiy has never lost to the Wings during the regular season at 12-0-0) a night off.
The specialty teams again proved to be the difference.
“They scored twice on the power play when it mattered and we didn’t and it ends up being the difference in the game,” coach Jeff Blashill said.
Fabbri tied the game 1-1, shortly after Point opened the game’s scoring.
Moritz Seider carried the puck up the ice and snapped a shot in the slot. Tampa. Elliott, stopped Seider’s shot but never smothered it, letting the puck dribble through his legs and into the crease.
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Fabbri came roaring to the net and tapped the loose puck into the net for his 15th goal. For Seider, it stretched his point streak to eight games.
Point gave Tampa the lead early in the second period.
With the Lightning on the power play, Victor Hedman snapped a shot from the high slot that Point, playing in the bumper role, got a stick on and redirected past Nedeljkovic for Point’s 22nd goal.
“We could have come out of the first period with a better score (it was tied 0-0), very early we played good hockey,” Blashill said. “I’m not sure how they think they played but even strength we played pretty good.
“We just have to make sure to win the specialty teams battle.”
What Blashill would like to see more of is the Wings shooting the puck. On many of the odd-man rushes the Wings had, they looked for the perfect pass instead of firing the puck, eliminating chances to score.
“It’s probably trying to be too cute and trying to make that extra play,” Blashill said. “We have to make sure we do a better job of getting into those scoring areas and at very least, show shot and freeze the goalie. Have that mentality we’re going to shoot first and make a play second.
“Too many of those times in those situations, we have a mentality we’re going to make a play.”
The Wings lost forward Carter Rowney in the second period for the remainder of the night after taking a Hedman slap shot in his foot.