DETROIT (AP) – The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning has not lost a game this season when leading after two periods. The last two NHL teams to pull off that feat in the regular season – Pittsburgh in 2016 and Chicago in 2015 – hoist the Cup.
“I like those stats,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said after the Lightning beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Sunday, holding onto a lead after 40 minutes for the 25th time this year.
Blake Coleman scored 16 seconds into the game, Mikhail Sergachev added another goal early in the second period, and the Lightning killed three penalties late.
“It’s definitely not the way you draw it up, taking three penalties consecutive, but the kill was championship hockey,” Coleman said. “That’s how you have to close out games. Tampa Bay’s Christopher Gibson had 22 saves, filling in for star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Cooper said the team has a plan for using Vasilevskiy, which included scratching him for a second straight game. On the game’s first shot, Jonathan Bernier gave up a goal and finished with 40 saves for the Red Wings, who went 0 for 4 on the power play.
“Our goaltending has been excellent, and our power play hasn’t been good enough,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Bernie was good, and when we needed our power play to score, they didn’t.” Filip Zadina scored from the left circle on a one-timer with 6:23 left in the second, trimming Detroit’s deficit to one. With 5:54 left in the third, the Lightning had three players in the box. Detroit did not take advantage of a 5-on-3 situation.