TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Lightning flexed a little bit of muscle, then went to work on evening their NHL playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings.
Ben Bishop had 23 saves and Tyler Johnson scored two goals, one on them on a power play while two teammates were in the penalty box for roughing, and the Lightning rebounded Saturday for a 5-1 victory Saturday in Game 2 of the opening-round Eastern Conference series.
The best-of-seven series shifts to Detroit for Game 3 on Tuesday, with the Red Wings searching for answers on how to generate more scoring opportunities against Bishop.
“We played physical, we played hard, and finally the hard work paid off,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said.
A big scrum along the boards in front of the Lightning bench led to Stamkos and teammate, Brian Boyle, in the penalty box, along with Detroit’s Danny DeKeyser and Kyle Quincey, who tussled with Stamkos and drew a four-minute penalty.
“We’re just sticking up for each other. We’ve done that all year. That’s been a characteristic of this team,” Stamkos said. “Whether it had an effect on the game, obviously, Johnny (Johnson) was nice to get it going on the power play there.”
Johnson scored just over 3 minutes into the game, giving Tampa Bay its first lead of the series. He beat goal Petr Mrazek again to finish a three-goal flurry that put Tampa Bay up 4-0 after two periods.
“It was a little bit more physical, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be this time of year,” Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Nothing really surprised me.”
Bishop lost his bid for a shutout when Detroit’s Tomas Tatar scored at 5:49 of the third period. The 6-foot-7 goalie won a career-best 40 games during the regular season and is one of the reasons the Lightning feel good about their chances of making a deep run in the playoffs.
“We thought we played well enough in the first game to win and we didn’t, so it was important to come out and play like we did,” Bishop said. “Obviously, it’s going to be a little tougher in Detroit, but we’re looking forward to it. It should be fun.”
Despite the loss, the Red Wings return home feeling fortunate the series is tied one game apiece. They did not play particularly well in the opener, but coach Mike Babcock felt the team elevated its play Saturday.
“I thought we were way better, for sure. You look up and you’re down 4-1, and you think you’ve done a lot of good things,” Babcock said. “But you can’t make big mistakes. It just goes to show you, you’ve got to keep it out of your net first and score second.”
Mrazek was superb in his playoff debut with 44 saves in the opener, but couldn’t replicate that success, stopping just 14 of 18 shots in the first two periods.
The Red Wings said it wasn’t the 23-year-old’s fault.
“I think Pete played pretty good. We gave up some slam dunks to them,” Babcock said. “You’ve got to give your goalie a chance. You can’t make those defensive mistakes and then think your goalie’s going to make those saves. If you give him a chance to battle, he’ll battle.”
Mrazek was pulled after Tampa Bay’s three-goal second period capped by Johnson’s breakaway. He was replaced by the struggling, but much more experienced Jimmy Howard, who gave up Tampa Bay’s final goal to Valtteri Filppula on a power play in the closing minutes.
Babcock said Mrazek will start Game 3.
The Lightning ended a six-game postseason skid dating to 2011. They dominated Game 1 — outshooting the Red Wings 46-14 — but also went 0 for 7 on the power play and yielded a short-handed goal that proved to be the difference in a 3-2 loss.
Detroit was outshot 30-24 this time, but still didn’t put enough pressure on the Lightning defense.
“We had a lot more chances, but the mistakes really cost us ” Zetterberg said. “Other than that, it was a step forward for us.”
Notes: The Lightning went a NHL-best 32-8-1 at home during the regular season. … The high-scoring Stamkos had two assists, his first points of the series. … Howard had 11 saves in the final period for Detroit. … The Red Wings were 0 for 4 on the power play after scoring two goals on special teams in the opener.
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