Next man up has been a mantra of the Tampa Bay Lightning all season long. Thursday night they didn’t have a next man up. Nikita Kucherov was sick and missed the game. Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson still weren’t ready to return, so the Bolts were down a man all game. That didn’t seem to matter. Detroit took an early lead, but the Lightning got goals from unlikely heroes like Andrej Sustr and J.T. Brown to help fuel a 5-3 victory.
The Lightning had a familiar feeling in this one, the feeling of having to come from behind. Frans Nielsen put the puck in the back of the net just over 4 minutes into the game. It was also a very physical start to the action with 2 fights in the 1st 6 minutes of the game. The score stayed at 1-0 till just over a minute left in the period. That’s when J.T. Brown scored his 3rd goal of the season to make it a tie game as we headed to the 2nd.
The unlikely hero theme continued for the Bolts early in the 2nd. Andrej Sustr scored his 3rd goal just over 2 minutes in to give the Lightning their 1st lead of the game. It was a Detroit defenseman who would tie it up later in the period. Danny Dekeyser scored his 4th goal of the season on a firecracker of a shot. Dekeyser would score again later in the period, but for the wrong team. The Detroit defenseman swept in an Alex Killorn shot as he was trying to sweep it out. The Lightning got another power play opportunity moments later and cashed in again. Jonathan Drouin’s 21st goal of the season gave the Bolts a 2-goal lead heading to the final period.
Tampa Bay had to start the 3rd period on the penalty kill after Vlad Namestnikov picked up a slashing penalty at the close of the 2nd, but Vasilevskiy and the boys were up to the challenge. The hero from last game came through again to extend the lead. Yanni Gourde scored his 3rd goal of the season to make it a 5-2 game. Mike Green added a power play goal to cut the deficit to 2 goals, but that’s as close as they would get in a 5-3 loss.
The Bolts will have Friday off before beginning a back-to-back on Saturday. This set of games will both be at home with the 1st matchup against the Montreal Canadiens. The puck is scheduled to drop at the typical Saturday night start time of 7 pm with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 up the dial on News Radio 970 WFLA.
1. Detroit - Nielsen- (Helm) - 4:22
2. Tampa Bay - Brown - (Dumont) - 18:58
1. Tampa Bay - Sustr - (Palat) - 2:22
2. Detroit - Dekeyser - (Tatar, Zetterberg) - 12:46
3. Tampa Bay - PPG - Killorn - (Unassisted) - 16:13
4. Tampa Bay - PPG - Drouin - (Hedman, Point) - 18:04
1. Tampa Bay - Gourde - (Palat, Sustr) - 6:03
2. Detroit - PPG - Green - (Nielsen, Larkin) - 8:18
1. Tampa Bay - Witkowski - (Fighting) - 3:47
2. Detroit - Mantha - (Fighting) - 3:47
3. Tampa Bay - Brown - (Fighting) - 5:41
4. Detroit - Ouelett - (Fighting) - 5:41
1. Tampa Bay - Dotchin - (Roughing) - 8:31
2. Detroit - Abdelkader - (Roughing) - 8:31
3. Detroit - Larkin - (Roughing) - 15:47
4. Detroit - Dekeyser - (Cross Checking) - 17:42
5. Tampa Bay - Namestnikov - (Slashing) - 20:00
1. Tampa Bay - McKegg - (Holding The Stick) - 7:11
SHOTS ON GOAL
Tampa Bay - 31Detroit - 34