Red Wings-Lightning Preview
The overwhelming offensive pressure that carried the Tampa Bay Lightning through the regular season proved to be equally electric in a playoff atmosphere.
Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, Petr Mrazek proved even better.
After wasting a one-sided performance in Game 1, the Lightning will again try to better the rookie goaltender and earn their first postseason victory in nearly four years Saturday when they host the Detroit Red Wings.
Tampa Bay set a franchise record with 46 shots in a non-overtime postseason game Thursday but still lost 3-2 to the Red Wings, who totaled 14 shots.
The Red Wings’ minus-32 shot differential is the franchise’s largest negative margin in a regulation playoff win in 50 years, and the largest league-wide since 1996.
"Found a way to win as a team. It wouldn’t have been the way I would have drawn it up, but I don’t care, you got a win," coach Mike Babcock said. "Mrazek stood tall for us. We can all get better, which is a positive thing."
Pavel Datsyuk scored twice and Luke Glendening netted a short-handed goal to support Mrazek, whose 44 saves in his postseason debut were his most in 41 NHL games. He earned the start over Jimmy Howard after a late-season battle that saw Mrazek post a 1.49 goals-against average in his final four starts, compared with Howard’s 3.21.
The Lightning led the league with 3.16 goals per game but again failed to take advantage of enough scoring opportunities in a postseason game, and they’re all-too familiar with playoff disappointment. They’ve been held to 12 goals while suffering a franchise-record six straight playoff losses dating to a win over Boston on May 25, 2011.
"It’s still brutal," coach Jon Cooper said. "We had 46 shots, but we let Mrazek see a lot of them. So we have to do a better job of making it harder for him to find pucks.
"Are we going to see another game that one-sided in puck possession and shots? No, probably not. But you take into account all the intangibles, our compete level, our battle, our execution on everything but putting the puck in the net … it was pretty good. That’s how we play the game."
The Lightning went 0 for 7 on the power play Thursday after scoring seven times with the man advantage in their final six games of the regular season.
"If we play that same way, with that compete and that effort and get those quality chances, they’re eventually going to go in," star Steven Stamkos said. "We have to be proud of the effort and buckle down a little on the power play."
Stamkos, second in the league with 43 goals, failed to record a point for the eighth time in Tampa Bay’s last 13 playoff games. The Lightning were 17-2-1 in their last 20 regular-season games in which Stamkos had a point.
Like Mrazek, Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop also made his playoff debut but finished with the fewest saves (11) of his career when playing a full game. He will be back in net Saturday against a Red Wings team he has dominated, going 7-2-0 with a 1.68 GAA in 10 regular-season matchups.
Defenseman Jason Garrison, third among Lightning defensemen with 30 points, could be available Saturday after missing the past seven games with an upper-body injury.
Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader remains day-to-day with a hand injury.