Detroit Red Wings zapped on special teams by Tampa Bay Lightning again in 2-1 OT loss

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings held their own against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, minus converting with a man advantage.

It took overtime for the Tampa Bay Lightning to put away Saturday’s game at Little Caesars Arena, 2-1.

“We did good stuff, we defended pretty well against a high-octane team,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We lose the special teams battle, so we lose the game.”

Oskar Sundqvist scored for the second time in three games since being acquired at the trade deadline when his shot hit Brian Elliott and squirted into Tampa’s net at 8:39 of the third period. Steven Stamkos spoiled Alex Nedeljkovic’s shutout bid with a power play goal at 15:22 of the third period, the only one of the Bolts’ 32 shots in regulation to get through.

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Tyler Bertuzzi was called for tripping Nikita Kucherov 41 seconds into overtime, and Brayden Point converted at 2:28. The Bolts outshot the Wings, 4-0, in the extra period.

“For the most part, though the first two periods, we were the better team, I think,” Nedeljkovic said. “They’re a good team, they are going to press. We got the first one and we just have to find a way to shut it down from there. We gave them a few too many chances, and they get two power play goals.”

The Wings (26-32-8) play next on Sunday afternoon at the Pittsburgh Penguins. Calvin Pickard was in net when the Wings won in a shootout in Pittsburgh Jan. 28. He served as backup Saturday in place of Thomas Greiss (upper body injury).

Good start

Poor starts have been an issue for the Wings over the past month, but they did well out of the gate against the Lightning. Nedeljkovic made a big save when Point snapped the puck on net a minute into the game, but that was one of the few quality chances Tampa had over the first 10 minutes. Lucas Raymond got a pass from Seider on the Wings’ first power play and fired a shot that Elliott absorbed into his body. Elliott frustrated Raymond again on Detroit’s second power play. The Wings outshot the Bolts, 7-5, the first 20 minutes.

No advantage

The Wings got a third straight power play at 6:02 of the third period. Seider was denied on a slap shot and had a shot blocked; Filip Hronek also tried to get a shot through. There was another stretch of back-to-back power plays in the third period. The Wings registered eight shots during 10 minutes with an extra skater. On Thursday at the Islanders, they squandered 1:41 with two extra skaters. The power play has had stretches of functionality, converting in six of eight games from Jan. 26-Feb. 14, but on the whole, it has not provided the momentum that having an extra skater should.

“I didn’t think we attacked enough,” Blashill said. “We didn’t attack the net enough. We had opportunities to shoot from the flank, and we didn’t shoot. We made it easy on their penalty kill.

Young defense

Veteran defenseman Marc Staal (lower body injury) was unavailable, and with Nick Leddy moved at the trade deadline, it was a young defense corps that suited up. Jordan Oesterle was the senior D-man at 29, and newcomer Jake Walman was next at 26, with the others checking in at 24 (Hronek), 23 (Gustav Lindstrom and newcomer Olli Juolevi) and 20 (Seider).

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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