Less than twenty-four hours after completing an impressive 6-3 victory in Boston on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Lightning were back in action again on Friday evening. For the final time in history, the Lightning would venture north to Detroit’s famed Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings’ home building for just a few more weeks.
For the second time in as many nights, the Lightning were able to secure victory against a divisional rival, this time coming up with a 2-1 overtime win over the Red Wings.
After a relatively uneventful opening frame, the Red Wings would be the team to break through onto the scoreboard first, jumping ahead 1-0 at the 8:47 mark of period two on captain Henrik Zetterberg‘s sixteenth tally of the season.
It wasn’t until the third and final period that Tampa Bay was able to get on the board with a goal. Crafty winger Ondrej Palat collected a rebound in front of the Detroit net and shuffled it home, evening the score at one with less than fifteen minutes to play in regulation.
With neither team able to generate much in the way of shots or quality scoring opportunities over the final half-period of action, the game would head to overtime. There, Lightning superstar Nikita Kucherov was able to connect on his team-leading 38th score of the season. With the goal, Kucherov secured a 2-1 victory for Tampa Bay and another pair of pivotal points in the playoff race.
Kucherov picked up an assist on Palat’s goal and combined with his game winning OT goal he now has 29 points since February 21st (16 games).
The Lightning are now one point back of both the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston and Tampa Bay each have eight games remaining and New York will have nine. The Lightning will face a huge test in their next contest when the Western Conference number-one seed Chicago Blackhawks visit Amalie Arena on Monday evening.
“Once again, people counted us out. But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.” – Victor Hedman
Tampa Bay will host Chicago on Monday at 7:30 PM.