Red Wings center Dylan Larkin celebrates his goal against the Lightning during the third period of the Wings’ 2-1 win Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena.
Nothing like a Tuesday night home date with the Tampa Bay Lightning to leave the Red Wings feeling good about themselves.
Repeating their feat from three weeks earlier, the Wings bested their Atlantic Division rivals, 2-1 at Joe Louis Arena.
“They’re a great team, they are one of those measuring sticks you look at on the calendar,” Jimmy Howard said. “We have played two very solid games against them.”
It was how the Wings won that pleased coach Jeff Blashill.
“I thought we played very well in almost all aspects,” he said. “They played pretty well, too, but we did lots of things we wanted to do. We did a good job using our D to exit our zone, I thought our breakouts were pretty good, I thought we played with lots of speed.”
Riley Sheahan showed signs he’s coming out of a season-starting slump, netting his second goal of the season with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle. Dylan Larkin scored his fourth goal of the season and second straight game-winning goal. Larkin had a little skirmish with Steven Stamkos in the second period, but Larkin said “I’d rather have the puck.”
Howard didn’t give up much, beaten in the second period during a two-man Tampa Bay power play among 30 shots total.
It’s the first time the Wings have won two in a row since they started the season 3-0.
“For our team, that was huge,” Howard said. “I think another step in the right direction from Ottawa the other night. Come in here and play hard against a very high-octane offense and keep them to just one goal, that says we played a pretty complete game.”
The Wings entered the night coming off a dominating performance in their previous game. Where Saturday at Ottawa they were able to use their first two power plays to build a two-goal lead, against big Ben Bishop and all around high-end opponent like the Lightning, that was not possible. Tomas Tatar had a solid shot denied by Bishop and Jakub Kindl had a good shot blocked, as the Wings tried to break through during two first-period man advantages.
Howard helped hold off a Lightning power play with a big glove save on Steven Stamkos in what was a very even first period.
The Lightning opened the second period with two straight chances, but the Wings got the lead when Sheahan showed off what a deceptively good shot he has two minutes into the period.
“I think to put one up on the boards gets the guys going and we did a good job from there, staying consistent and playing a smart game,” Sheahan said.
Tyler Johnson’s line had a particularly good shift late in the second period that saw Howard withstand a couple of good attacks. The Wings went back on the PK with five minutes to go and found themselves doubly shorthanded after Joakim Andersson hesitated to clear the puck, instead ending up sending it over the boards for a delay-of-game penalty. It took Nikita Kucherov 21 seconds to make it 1-1.
Howard kept the score tied with a pad save on Ondrej Palat during the leftover power play.
The Wings survived a dicey situation early in the third period when Howard came out to play the puck only to have it bounce away from him, but Palat couldn’t corral the puck. Instead the Wings took it down the other end, and Larkin fired a shot that snuck past Bishop’s blocker, at 5:54 of the third period.
“I tried to take it to the net hard and it went in,” Larkin said. “Second straight win, so I am happy. Bonus to get the game winner.”
The Lightning pressed hard for another goal, but Howard responded with a huge save on J.T.Brown and teammates were able to spend enough time in the offensive zone to give the Wings their first winning streak in three weeks.