Apr. 4—It took a while, 10 years actually, but the Red Wings did it.
They actually won a regular-season game Sunday in Tampa, ending a 17-game losing streak dating back to Feb. 17, 2011, defeating the Lightning, 5-1.
That might not be the most shocking aspect of all.
Not the victory itself, but how dominant the Wings (13-22-5) were in winning this one.
Goaltender Thomas Greiss was superb, making 27 saves and a good portion of them with the game still tight in the first 30 minutes, and the Wings broke it open with three goals on four shots in just under three minutes late in the second period.
So much for the long, long losing ways in Tampa.
“It’s huge,” Greiss said of the victory. “They won the Stanley Cup last year and that’s one of the best teams in the league. It’s always special to beat those kind of guys.”
Now, the Wings have won games in the playoffs at Amalie Arena during that stretch, and obviously, it’s been different sets of rosters. When you only go into a certain arena once or twice per season, these things have a tendency of being prolonged.
There are a lot of variables involved.
“If you guys didn’t tell us, we’d have no idea to be dead honest with you,” coach Jeff Blashill said of the 10-year streak of losses in Tampa. “But we haven’t beat these guys much, so having success against them certainly feels good.
“Especially the fact they’re as good a team as they are, the defending Stanley Cup champions, but in the end, for me, it’s about playing the right way and how the process of it went. Our process was pretty good.”
Valtteri Filppula (third goal, 16:05), Michael Rasmussen (second goal, 16:34) and Marc Staal (third goal, 18:58) pummeled third-string Lightning goalie Christopher Gibson, turning a 1-0 Wings lead quickly to 4-0.
Dylan Larkin opened the scoring on the power play in the first period, his seventh goal, and Darren Helm had an empty-net goal (Helm’s second goal) to clinch it.
“Everyone just played really well,” said Rasmussen, a young center who was quite noticeable in both games over the weekend against Tampa. “We clogged up the neutral zone real good and stuck to our system. We played pretty good.
“We can play with whoever as long as we play our game and everyone is on the same page and working hard. We have a good group of guys and a lot of great players, and it showed. It was a big win.”
Gibson was making his first NHL start since March 30, 2018, when he was with the Islanders.
And, ironically, in Gibson’s last NHL appearance in 2019, Gibson relieved Greiss when both were with the Islanders.
Greiss, who finally got some goals to work with (coming in, Greiss had gotten an average of 1.5 per game), made a huge save early in the second period on Steven Stamkos to preserve a 1-0 Wings lead.
Tampa (26-10-2) skated on a three-on-one rush, Stamkos got the puck on the dot, and fired a shot that rolled up Greiss’ stick and into the stands, summing up the afternoon for both teams.
“Hits the shaft and goes out and goes the other way and we score a goal,” Greiss said. “(If it’s) 1-1, a totally different game.
“We played a real good game. We didn’t give them much, played tight through the neutral zone and a hard checking game. A lot of blocks. Defense was unreal, and our penalty kill blocked shots. The commitment and battle (was real good).”
Victor Hedman scored in the third period to keep the Lightning from being shut out.
The Red Wings have held their own against the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning this season. The Wings are 2-3-1 in six games, with a victory and overtime loss against Tampa at Little Caesars Arena.
“We we pretty good defensively (Sunday) and that’s what we have to be to give ourselves a chance, especially against this group (Tampa),” Blashill said.
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