With their recent three-game losing streak occupying the rear-view mirror, the Tampa Bay Lightning have looked ahead to what they do best — win games.
The club stayed atop the ultra-competitive Central Division on Saturday afternoon by jumping to an early two-goal lead and holding on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in the first of back-to-back games.
The victory gave the Lightning a two-game winning streak as the teams prepare to finish their series Sunday in Tampa.
Rookie Ross Colton and Brayden Point scored for the second straight game as the Lightning kept their streak alive of beating the Red Wings in Tampa’s Amalie Arena.
The Lightning have 17 consecutive home wins in regulation over Detroit — the longest active streak by one opponent against a visitor in the NHL. The Red Wings’ most recent victory in Tampa occurred on Feb. 17, 2011.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper had a quick answer when asked what was the key to hanging on to a one-goal lead over the last 16 minutes.
“Probably the goalie,” Cooper said with a chuckle. “But we gave up too many chances in the third. Some were some unlucky breaks, but for the most part, we were a little too loose. Part of it, too, was we were pressing for a third (goal) and we couldn’t get it. It was opening us up a little bit.
“Right down the stretch, especially in the six-on-five, we did a pretty good job. And Vasi helped out.”
In a 25-save showing, Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy moved to 12-0-0 all-time against the Red Wings.
Detroit fell to 1-3-1 against the Lightning this season and is 2-5-1 in its past eight games overall.
Entrenched in the division’s cellar, the Red Wings are playing their young players in order to get them valuable ice time.
Following Thursday’s 3-2 overtime defeat against Florida, Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said he liked the physical play of Michael Rasmussen and Givani Smith, with each young player making an impression in the rough and tumble match.
The 21-year-old Rasmussen’s hard work on the boards produced the primary assist on Anthony Mantha’s 10th goal of the season for a brief 2-1 lead. Smith, 23, earned 10 penalty minutes with a pair of fights against Florida’s Ryan Lomberg and Riley Stillman.
“(Rasmussen) is really taking steps,” Blashill said of the 6-foot-6, 229-pound center. “On the wall, he got his butt out and made himself big and strong. He seems to be gaining confidence and is good with the puck.
“Givani was real good. (The fights were) stepping up big time, especially sticking up for a teammate in the second one. When he’s in the O zone, he’s a really good player. He’s really strong on the puck, wins tons of pucks and gets to the net’s front.”
On Friday, the Red Wings waived perplexing 24-year-old forward Evgeny Svechnikov — a 2015 first-round selection (19th overall) by former GM Ken Holland — after he produced just five goals and four assists in 30 NHL games.
Svechnikov, who cleared waivers, is the older brother of Carolina Hurricanes standout Andrei Svechnikov and has struggled at left wing for Detroit, sometimes showing glimpses of promising talent but rarely producing much on the scoresheet.
–Field Level Media