(SportsNetwork.com) – The final second-round spot will be up for grabs on
Wednesday when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of
the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The decisive battle of this best-of-seven set comes on the heels of Tampa’s
5-2 victory Monday night in Detroit. The Lightning staved off elimination to
give themselves a chance to take the series tonight on home ice. However,
Tampa has found little advantage at Amalie Arena in the playoffs, going 1-2 as
the host in this series after posting a stellar 32-8-1 mark at home during the
Detroit posted a 4-0 win the last time the clubs met in Tampa, breezing to the
Game 5 victory on Saturday. The Red Wings have taken all the odd-numbered
contests in this series and hope that trend continues for Wednesday’s ultimate
“No team has been able to win two games in a row in the series. So let’s go to
Tampa,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said.
The winner of tonight’s contest will meet the Montreal Canadiens in the
conference semifinals. The Atlantic Division champion Canadiens ousted Ottawa
in six games and will own home-ice advantage against either Detroit or Tampa.
The Lightning jumped out to a three-goal lead in Game 6 before allowing the
Wings to cut the deficit to 3-2. However, Alex Killorn’s third-period goal
provided Tampa with some much-needed breathing room and Cedric Paquette’s
empty-netter in the final minute sealed the victory.
Tyler Johnson was the offensive star for the Bolts, notching his third two-
goal game of the playoffs to help his club avoid elimination.
“I felt like our team gave 100 percent effort tonight,” said Johnson. “It was
desperation hockey with our backs against the wall and now we just have to
carry it on to Game 7.”
Johnson, who tied St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko for the playoff lead in goals
with six, is the first player in franchise history to register three multi-
goal games in a single playoff series. He also tied the team’s record for
goals in a single series, which Ruslan Fedotenko set from May 10-22, in 2004.
Jason Garrison also lit the lamp and Nikita Kucherov tallied three assists for
the Lightning, who improved to 7-6 all-time in elimination games.
Ben Bishop made 22 saves in the important victory. The goaltender anchored a
solid penalty-killing effort which held Detroit to just one goal on seven
The last time Tampa Bay was down 3-2 on the road in the playoffs was in 2004,
when it won the final two games against the Calgary Flames and hoisted the
Tampa hasn’t won a playoff series since 2011, when it made it to the
conference finals before losing to Boston in seven games. Detroit is aiming to
advance to the second round for the second time in three seasons after losing
in five games to the Bruins in the opening round last year.
Tomas Tatar scored two goals for the Red Wings in the Game 6 loss and Petr
Mrazek, who was coming off a 28-save shutout in Game 5, stopped 23 shots in
Detroit now has to play Game 7 without defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who was
suspended one game by the league for a hit on Kucherov in the second period of
Monday’s game. No penalty was called on the play, but the NHL deemed it to be
a charge when announcing the suspension.
“He’s real important for us. He plays a lot of minutes,” Red Wings captain
Henrik Zetterberg said of Kronwall.
Kronwall is leading Detroit in ice time in this series, averaging 23 minutes,
35 seconds of action per game and also has recorded two assists.
The Red Wings are 14-10 all-time in Game 7s, but just 3-5 on the road. Tampa
is 3-1 in Game 7s and has won both of its decisive contests on home ice. Both
of the Lightning’s home Game 7 victories came during its Stanley Cup
championship season of 2004.
Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg leads all players in this series with nine points
(3G, 6A) in six Game 7s. Teammate Pavel Datsyuk has four goals and one assist
in the do-or-die playoff situation.
Former Red Wing Valtteri Filppula leads all Tampa players with six points (1G,
5A) in six Game 7s.
Both Bishop and Mrazek will be playing in a Game 7 for the first time.