A hard push for scoring came to the Detroit but couldn’t capitalize further on. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn was the first to score before Anton Stralman scored on the empty net to eliminate the Red Wings 2-0 at Amalie Arena Wednesday night. Tampa advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals meeting the Montreal Canadiens.
The Red Wings and Lightning played in one last game to determine who would move on and who would be moving their stuff out of the locker room the next day until next season. Detroit had the chance to end it at home but faltered severely losing to Tyler Johnson’s speed that cost them a 5-2 loss. Veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall and Marek Zidlicky who the team picked up in April are out of the lineup with a suspension and an injury.
With their presence off the bench, it spelled trouble for Detroit to play each side of their game to top form. Tampa hoped to move on and play the Habs as they pushed their offense well enough to be in this position with the home ice in their favor. Despite the slow offense from Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Johnson has been leading the team scoring six goals in the series, his leadership will be the upmost important for the home team.
Detroit moved hard into the Tampa zone taking six shots on goaltender Ben Bishop. For over two minutes, the Red Wings had a grip on the puck to try and score as early as possible. The Lightning took their first shot on net three minutes in where Petr Mrazek stopped the sliding puck. They took seven shots on the Red Wings net but were stopped by the 24 year old Czech netminder. The Red Wings were the winners in the first firing 14 shots as the possibility of scoring was coming close.
At the start of the second, Detroit caught their second power play of the game making great scoring chances on Bishop but none that were the perfect shot. Tampa nearly scared the Detroit special teams going for the short hander but missed their opportunity.
They earned a chance with great shots from Alex Killorn that went off the post on two occasions. Detroit responded again with Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg trying to become the first captain in the series to score a goal. After 40 minutes there wasn’t a goal recorded leading the third period to become the most suspenseful.
The wait was over five minutes into the third where on a collision with the Red Wings behind the Detroit net The Lightning gained possession of the puck where a pass from Ryan Callahan went to Coburn who took a shot on the top corner that rattled in behind Mrazek. “I didn’t see the puck coming out D tried to block it and I think the guy faked a little bit and I didn’t see it and it went through me,” said Mrazek who made 16 saves on the night. “I knew he was going for a one timer there and I lost it when the D went down and he hit that very well.” It was his first of the series and the important one to control the pace of the game.
It continued to remain that way as the Red Wings were able to bring the puck into the Tampa zone but couldn’t hold a firm stance. Time continued to fall off the clock with the same constant defense Tampa had going to block all attempts for Detroit tie the game. The Red Wings went for the empty net with 1:40 left for six attackers to push on.
All their opportunities never came together as the Lightning fought for the puck where Stralman got a bounce going for the puck to roll all the way across the ice and into the net ending Detroit’s season. It only took another minute an 18 seconds for the game to come to an end that led Tampa to ultimate victory.
Tampa took just 17 shots on the mark as they scored on great opportunities while the defense played tight all game long taking Detroit out of it early. The Red Wings took 31 shots on Bishop with none making it through the big body of Bishop. He earned his first playoff shutout with in increase of his save percentage nearly .920.
There was no point in contemplating what went wrong when no further opportunities were left to stay in the playoffs. “We couldn’t find a way to get the puck in today and unfortunately we couldn’t get it done tonight,” said Zetterberg after the game.
“It’s really tiring obviously this year we had a good team we had a good chance and unfortunately we couldn’t get it done. I can only look to myself how I couldn’t really produce the way I wanted this postseason no goals when I should score more goals than I did.” This was the second time that the Red Wings lose in the quarterfinal and the seventh time they have ended the season without the Stanley Cup.
“We did lots of good things in the end but we were looking forward to going to Montreal so it’s disappointing without any question,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “We thought we had done enough good things in the series to advance but that gives you a bit of an empty feeling.”
A lot of questions were left unanswered about where the Detroit Red Wings go from here but after a loss it takes time to get over disappointment, which is what all the players, and fans feel.