Flash Points: Lightning’s high-powered attack smothered by Petr Mrazek
TAMPA, Fla. — Another year, new anticipation, the same outcome.
The result in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s return to the playoffs looked much like the one last year when the Montreal Canadiens swept them in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Despite placing sustained pressure on the Detroit Red Wings throughout Thursday night at Amalie Arena, the visitors escaped with a 3-2 victory.
The Lightning dominated the shots-on-goal total, 46-14. But young goaltender Petr Mrazek did enough to help clinch the Red Wings’ Game 1 win.
The night began with pomp for the Lightning. They opened their second consecutive appearance in the playoffs, the first time they appeared in the postseason in two straight campaigns since making four consecutive trips from 2003 to 2007.
Heading into the night, the matchup against the Red Wings appeared favorable. Tampa Bay won three of the four games between the teams in the regular season, including both contests at Amalie Arena by a combined score of 8-2. The Lightning entered Game 1 with an NHL-best 32 victories at home in the regular season.
Tampa Bay came out buzzing in the first period. The Lightning created dizzying pressure around the 23-year-old Mrazek, who turned back four shots on goal in the opening minutes before the Red Wings jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a deflection by center Pavel Datsyuk 9:03 into the game. Soon after, Lightning center Brian Boyle answered with an unassisted shorthanded score with 14:31 gone in the first period.
The second period’s lone score came from Datsyuk eight seconds into play. Mrazek was masterful the rest of the period in turning back 17 shots. The Lightning ended the third period with a 27-10 shot edge.
In the third period, Red Wings center Luke Glendening scored a shorthanded goal 5:50 into the third period on a strong individual effort that proved to be the difference. Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov closed the deficit to one 8:26 into the final period, but it wasn’t enough for Tampa Bay to escape another 1-0 hole in a best-of-seven series.
THE TURNING POINT
Glendening’s shorthanded goal let the air out of the Lightning. A strong individual all but sank Tampa Bay at that point with Detroit ahead 3-1.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
What more could Mrazek have done? He didn’t look like someone making his postseason debut.
STAT OF THE GAME
Mrazek made a whopping 44 saves. The Lightning outplayed the Red Wings everywhere except on the scoreboard.
The Lightning face the Red Wings in Game 2 at 3 p.m. Saturday at Amalie Arena.