TAMPA, Fla. — The Detroit Red Wings showed some mettle, sticking it to the two-time defending champions and enjoying the reward of a satisfying performance.
They emerged from Amalie Arena on Tuesday with a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s the second time in a week the Wings have defeated an opponent that has clinched a playoff spot.
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Unlike their April 14 victory at Carolina, where they relied mostly on goaltending, this night they got 38 saves from Thomas Greiss — and two goals from Jakub Vrana. It was a solid team performance, with players winning puck battles and sacrificing to block shots.
The Bolts have clinched a playoff spot, but they’re chasing Toronto for home-ice advantage and trying to stay ahead of Boston and not slipping into the wild-card spot and a likely first-round date against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Andrei Vasilevskiy lost for the first time in 14 career starts against the Wings.
The Wings (30-37-10) continue the trip on Thursday at the Florida Panthers, then return to Little Caesars Arena Saturday for their final home game.
How they adjusted
With Larkin done for the season after undergoing core muscle surgery Monday, the Wings needed a pivot for their top line. Joe Veleno got the nod to play between Tyler Bertuzzi and Lucas Raymond, offering a big opportunity for Veleno to demonstrate he’s more than a third-liner. Oskar Sundqvist returned after missing the weekend games. Minor-league call-ups Chase Pearson and Riley Barber were available, but the Wings opted instead to move defenseman Jordan Oesterle to the fourth line.
How they started
Greiss had his gloves full in the first period as the Lightning dominated offensive-zone time. Greiss made three saves alone on Steven Stamkos, including one on a slap shot from the left circle during a Tampa power play, one of the few chances the Bolts had with the man advantage as the Wings’ penalty killers did a good job taking away lanes and being aggressive with the puck.
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The Wings had trouble getting out of their zone — on one attempt, Jake Walman turned the puck over, and Stamkos turned that into another chance. Greiss’ 16th save came on Corey Perry, who nearly scored on the same play that saw Pat Maroon clothesline Gustav Lindstrom.
How they surged
The Wings played with much more cohesion and jump in the second period. They gave up a goal at 3:58 to Colton, but the response was to stick it right back to the Bolts. Sundqvist was rewarded for battling in front of the net with a goal at 4:20, and Vrana scored at 6:34, finishing a feed from Filip Zadina seconds after a Wings power play expired. FIlip Hronek fired a pass from behind his goal line up the boards. Raymond won a puck battle against Mikhail Sergachev and raced up ice and made it 3-1. That gave the Wings three goals in four minutes. Nikita Kucherov ebbed the tide with a power play goal midway through the second period.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.