Detroit at Tampa Bay (2/17/11)

The Red Wings were in Tampa tonight to play to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brad Stuart returned with full face shield in place. Salei was given some time off to be home with his pregnant wife so Kindl was still in the lineup to fill in for him. The goalies were Howard and Roloson.

This was the first meeting between the Red Wings and Steve Yzerman’s new team. I’m sure there were some conflicting emotions on both sides but when the puck dropped it was all business. The Wings had their fathers along on this trip and they had a few days off to have fun in Florida before the game. Apparently they did some golfing and went on a Gulf of Mexico fishing trip. There were several sunburned faces on the Red Wings bench.

The Wings got off to a great start. They had lots of jump in this game. It was text book Red Wings hockey. They jumped out to an early lead with a power play tip-in by Cleary and then a nice backhand goal by the opportunistic Datsyuk.

In the second period the Lightning seemed to get their game in gear a little bit. They were inspired after getting their first goal even though it deflected in off Ericsson’s stick. It energized them enough that they scored again a few minutes later with a goal by Steve Downie. The tie didn’t last long though. A few minutes later in the period Kronwall scored a power play goal that deflected in off Hedman’s skate. That was justice since it was Hedman’s goal that had gone in off of Ericsson. Then Abdelkader scored another opportunistic goal when the rebound came right to him on the empty side of the net.

In the third period the Wings continued to roll. Datsyuk scored a nice goal on the rush after a pass from Hudler. Then Helm scored a great unassisted goal after intercepting a pass and taking off to the net all alone and burning Roloson.

Detroit allowed 40 shots on goal, but for the most part they were poor quality, low percentage shots. The Wings were pretty much in charge of the pace for the whole game. There was a surge by Tampa Bay in the second period but the Wings stayed calm and played their game and it wasn’t a problem.

There were plenty of Red Wings fans in attendance at the St. Pete Times Forum. Whenever they showed the crowd it looked about 80% red. You could also hear the “Let’s Go Red Wings” chant a few times. Someone even threw an octopus which I don’t think has happened in any game yet this season, home or away.

Although Yzerman’s team lost, he hopefully at least gained some insight into what tweaks he wants to make before the trade deadline to make sure his team can compete against the top teams of the Western Conference. They’re already a really strong team though and if this were a seven game series I’m sure the Lightning would win at least a few.

This 6-2 win brings us to:
35-16-6
76 points

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