Lightning look to continue mastery over Red Wings
The Tampa Bay Lightning can carry their long winning streak against the Red Wings into next season with a victory at Detroit's Little Caesars Arena on Thursday.
The Lightning have defeated the Red Wings 14 straight times, including a 3-2 squeaker at home on Saturday. Tampa Bay, the NHL's top team, has already downed Detroit three times this season.
The Lightning can also match their franchise record of 54 regular-season wins, which they set a year ago.
Their latest victory came against one of the other top teams in the Eastern Conference. They thumped the Maple Leafs in Toronto 6-2 on Monday night.
It didn't take Tampa Bay long to establish complete control, as it led 4-0 early in the second period.
They showed their depth as their top three offensive threats -- Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos -- didn't score goals.
"We always say we've got four lines that can contribute, four lines that can score," center Tyler Johnson told NHL.com. "Offense, defense, whatever it is, I like the skill that we have."
Johnson and center Cedric Paquette had two goals apiece and Lightning coach John Cooper was especially pleased to see Paquette enjoy a big offensive night.
"It's nice to see when these guys work their tail off doing all the right things and they get rewarded for it," he said. "It's not like he's a guy that plays 20 minutes a night. He plays in all those situations, kind of a grinding role, kills penalties for us and for somebody like him to get two goals (Monday), the guys on the bench were really happy for him."
Kucherov collected an assist, inching his league-leading point total to 111. He had two goals against the Red Wings on Saturday. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh tallied the other goal that night.
Detroit is staggering to the finish line. The Red Wings were officially eliminated from playoff contention with a 3-1 loss at Montreal on Tuesday. They have lost 11 of their last 12 games, though the Canadiens didn't finish them off until an empty-net goal.
"Overall, I thought our compete level was much higher," goalie Jonathan Bernier told NHL.com. "It comes down to the scoring chances they had, and Carey (Price) made some big saves there in the third. We had the chance to tie it up and we just couldn't find back of the net."
Leading scorer Dylan Larkin will miss his fifth straight game on Thursday with a neck strain. The Red Wings will also likely be without defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who departed the Montreal game early with a lower-body injury.
Detroit's effort in Montreal was a consolation prize after getting blown out by Florida 6-1 two nights earlier.
"It's incredibly important you maintain your culture of work ethic, the things that are important in this locker room," coach Jeff Blashill told the Detroit Free Press. "If you can do that, and I think we have through some real tough years, then you're not that far away. If you lose that culture, you're light years away. We're not that far way because of that."
--Field Level MediaHome