Lightning get a big win, but possibly at a terrible price.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Obviously it would've been nice if he could've maintained the lead in the Third Period by himself, but that 4-on-3 opportunity against was just a tough scramble play to defend. I can find no fault with either goal.
3:30 TB Kucherov (7), (Nesterov, Namestnikov)
6:09 TB Stamkos (9), (Hedman, Kucherov)
18:41 DET Nielsen (3), (Glendening)
1:29 TB Nesterov (1), (Filppula, Namestnikov)(PP)
7:12 DET Sproul (1), (Green, Nyquist)(PP)
9:38 DET Zetterberg (3), (Mantha, Sproul)(PP)
18:50 TB Kucherov (8), (Coburn, Johnson)
Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov were the game's first and third stars.
The Lightning got a crucial point in a tough game on the back end of a back-to-back situation and generally did it the right way. They were opportunistic and made sure they jumped out to the fast start. They got a big assist from Petr Mrazek on a puck handling miscue that led to the first goal. That soft goal ended up being the margin of victory, as soft goals usually are. The Lightning then used the power play in the Third Period when King Chicken, Justin Abdelkader, took an undisciplined call at the end of the Second Period that Nesterov cashed in for the two goal lead. If there's a critique to be made in this game, it's getting undisciplined while trying to protect the lead and eventually letting Detroit tie it on two power play goals. I thought the Lightning were generally good 5 on 5 until their legs got heavy in the Third Period, so giving Detroit man advantages (albeit because the game was getting out of hand because the refs failed to throw Ott out for a clear charge where Ott left his feet and elbowed Paquette in the head in the Second Period) gave them a lifeline the Lightning didn't need to be giving them. Still, you have to be proud of the response by the Lightning to dig deep and get a couple of decent forechecking shifts late that led to Kucherov's game winning greasy goal.
These back-to-back wins were absolutely critical in the standings calculus. The Lightning now need just 3 points the remainder of this road trip to hit their quota of 12 points every 10 game segment to stay on playoff pace. Sneaking out of Detroit with 2 points is a fantastic result because of that.
But... it came at a price. Late in the First Period, while battling for a loose puck, Steven Stamkos appeared to twist his leg slightly and left the ice grabbing the back of his right knee. It didn't look like a particularly awful or awkward movement that he got hurt on, but it doesn't have to be to cause a serious injury. I'm not a doctor, but I'll play one on the internet right now: I'm hoping this is just a knee sprain and Stamkos just needs a week or two off to heal. Obviously, some sort of tear will be a far more significant blow to the team. Either way, it takes Stamkos off the ice at a time where he was starting to form one of the best lines in hockey with Kucherov and Namestnikov. If you're trying to find a silver lining, it's not like the Lightning don't have a clue how to win with Stamkos and Stralman out of the lineup. However, part of the reason the Lightning weathered that storm the last time was a healthy Jonathan Drouin, who needs to return from his (presumed) concussion soon, please.
My apologies to the entire Tampa Bay Lightning fan base for having to watch the game on NBCSN tonight. The play-by-play and color was fine, but the studio crew of Mike Milbury and Keith Jones continues to prove they are, collectively, dumb as a stone. How do I hate thee, Mike Milbury? Let me count the ways. Was it the condescending way you remarked in pregame that somehow Steven Stamkos must like playing in Tampa Bay, as if that somehow makes him a strange dude? No, you're right, Mike, Stamkos is totally wrong to want to play for a now perennial Stanley Cup contender in a town where the average temperature in January is approximately 75 degrees and his effective tax rate is pennies on the dollar. He's clearly the wrong one, not you, Mike Milbury. Was it Tappen then asking Milbury what the Edmonton Oilers need to do to turn their season around? As if Milbury has a clue!? Folks, there's two things Mike Milbury is an expert on: beating people with shoes (not tying his own, though), and burning down a once proud franchise like he did to the Islanders as GM (big ups to you, Alexei Yashin). If you need advice about that, turn to Milbury. If you need advice about anything else, including basic arithmetic, you're better off consulting a trained monkey.
Then, oh how I enjoyed the NBCSN lionizing of King Chicken Justin Abdelkader. Yes, NBCSN, it truly takes a warrior to needlessly spear Alex Killorn at the end of the Second Period and eventually give Tampa Bay a critical power play goal. If I'm starting a Zaxby's franchise, I'd love me some Justin Abdelkader. For my hockey team, not so much. The capper was, of course, the snap reaction to the game praising Detroit's heart after they got stomped by Montreal in their last game. Wait, WHAT? They give trophies for trying now on NBCSN!?!? Are you kidding? And, you're going to praise DETROIT'S heart? Not the team that dug down to pull out a win on the downside of a back-to-back? Not the team playing without it's #2 defenseman already and that saw it's captain and best goal scorer leave the game late in the First Period to a potentially scary knee injury? No, you're right, the Detroit Red Wings, possessors of plenty of chickens and no nuggets, are the ones with HEART! Because Milbury and Jones proclaim it!
I pray for a day when the NHL grows enough in prominence the United States that people take more notice of this buffoonery and demand these fools be swept off the airwaves. In the meantime, their sole utility is to remind us that maybe Paul Kennedy and Brian Engblom aren't so bad on the local broadcasts after all. Maybe.
Brayden Point was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot on goal in 13:14. Very brave move by King Chicken Abdelkader to decide to thug it up on young Point after the whistle in the Second Period. Truly, that was a moment of bravery that was worthy of NBCSN's praise. It takes a real manly man to pick on a 20 year old rookie who is listed at 166 pounds. Heck, Abdelkader probably lays eggs that weigh more than Point. Is this really the guy you want to hitch your hype machine up to NBCSN? Really? Care to rethink that?
Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 13:29.
Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.