‘Good feeling’: Wings coach Lalonde earns bragging rights with 4-2 win in Tampa

Detroit News

Tampa – The homecoming couldn’t have come out better for Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde.

Returning to the arena where Lalonde was part of a coaching staff that won Stanley Cups and just missed a third, and matching wits against friends Lightning coach Jon Cooper and assistant Jeff Blashill (who Lalonde replaced with the Wings), Lalonde earned early bragging rights.

The Wings won the first game Tuesday between the teams this season, 4-2.

“Good feeling,” said Lalonde of the victory. “I just liked the we played. We were on our heels in the third (period), but we put ourselves in that position with two real good periods. It looked like a lot of our games of late, we didn’t give up a ton.

“And Ville was the difference in the third.”

Tampa pushed with the game on the line, but Husso made several key stops and saved his best work for the final 20 minutes. Tampa twice cut the Wings’ lead to one goal by pulling Andrei Vasilevskiy for an extra attacker and scoring both its goals that way.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 4, Lightning 2

Husso turned in what is becoming a typical performance, with 44 saves including 28 with Tampa pressing in the third period.

“You know what’s going on but at that point I wasn’t thinking about shutout or anything, just get the win,” Husso said. “They have high skill, high end players. They got two goals tonight, which you have a chance to win the game.”

Getting a victory for Lalonde in his old stomping grounds was a good feeling, too.

“It’s great,” said Michael Rasmussen, who opened the Wings’ scoring. “Obviously a lot of accomplishments here for him and a special game. It was a nice (video) tribute for him. It’s a big game and we’re happy we could pull one out for him.”

The victory gave the Wings (13-7-5) two victories in the first two games in what appeared to be challenging road trip. They’ve won four consecutive road games now, the first time since the 2015-16 season.

“A good sign,” said Lalonde of the road success. “To be able to win on the road, we’re managing our game well. Having four lines with a little synergy, with the lines getting some rhythm and staying out of the box. Good signs for sure.”

More:Derek Lalonde, Jeff Blashill both big parts of Jon Cooper’s coaching tree in Tampa

Rasmussen, Jonatan Berggren, and empty-net goals from Adam Erne and David Perron provided the Wings’ scoring.

Berggren’s goal provided the cushion in the third period, with the Wings clinging to a 1-0 lead.

Olli Maatta’s shot from the top of the slot was redirected by Berggren in front, giving the Wings the two-goal lead at 5 minutes, 59 seconds of the third period.

Tampa’s Steven Stamkos, with the goalie pulled, cut the Wings’ lead to 2-1 with his 14th goal, just beating Husso between the pads and post.

The madness really started from there.

Erne’s empty-net goal, his fourth, gave the Wings the two-goal lead back, 3-1, but Tampa closed to within a goal again on Brayden Point’s 11th goal off a scramble in front of Husso at 17:34, just 1:12 after Erne’s goal.

Perron’s goal with 25 seconds left finally clinched it.

“It goes to show you what they can be like with a little urgency, pushing in the third,” Lalonde said. “But we managed our game and Ville was a difference.”

Husso preserved the lead with another stellar performance, stopping 28 shots in the third peirod.

More:‘It’s special to go back there’: Wings coach Derek Lalonde excited about returning to Tampa

“Huss was great,” Rasmussen said.

Dominik Kubalik found Rasmussen splitting through the Lightning defense and skating alone on Tampa goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Rasmussen finished with his fourth goal, just 1:54 into the second period.

Vasilevskiy was tremendous in the opening first period, frustrating the Wings on several prime scoring chances.

Vasilevskiy stopped Kubalik on a breakaway attempt, then during a flurry late in the period, Vasilevskiy stoned the entire line of Rasmussen, Kubalik and Pius Suter, each of whom had quality looks and scoring chances.

The Wings have talked all season about the need to beat elite teams, something they didn’t do last season and have had middling success with this early season.

Defeating Tampa was a positive step.

“It’s tough to get a win in this league against anyone, but we have not in a while beat an upper echelon type of team,” Lalonde said. “We were fortunate to do that tonight.”

Beating Vasilevskiy was an accomplishment of its own for the Wings. With the defeat, Vasilevskiy is now 13-2-0 in his career against the Wings.


Twitter: @tkulfan

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