Tampa Bay Eliminates Detroit with Game Seven Win

USATSI_8543766_154158418_lowresThe Tampa Bay Lightning have eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in Game Seven of their first round playoff series. Tampa closed things out with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday night.

The Lightning will now face the Montreal Canadiens in the second round.

Goalie Ben Bishop earned the shutout for Tampa Bay, his first of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He finished the series with a 4-3 record, including 1.87 goals against average and a .922 save percentage to go with his Game Seven shutout.

Braydon Coburn had the 1-0 goal for Tampa, while Anton Stralman added a late marker into an empty net to close it out. Both goals came in the third period.

Prior to the final frame, Detroit seemed to want it more. They outshot Tampa 32-13 in the first two periods and they handled the Lightning’s finest players well. The Red Wings boasted tremendous possession numbers and kept the “Triplets” line of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov without a shot until the third.

But it wasn’t enough. Valiantly as the Red Wings would fight, they wouldn’t be able to slip the biscuit past Bishop. They even had five shots in the first 88 seconds, a salvo that didn’t have the intended effect of rattling the opposition netminder.

Detroit’s goaltending was almost always equal to the task, with some downright heroic play from 23-year-old Petr Mrazek. He had a 2.11 goals against average and a .925 save percentage over seven games, facing 186 shots over the series. But for some, Mrazek wasn’t the story at all.

“[Bishop] took command of the game,” Tampa head coach Jon Cooper said. “We had a seven game series and he took command of this game. I think Mrazek’s been getting a lot of press about how well he’s played in this series, and nobody’s really talked about [Bishop]. After tonight, we can talk about [Bishop].”

Tampa’s Game Seven scoring won them the series, plain and simple, and it often looked in doubt. Detroit did the job of containing Steven Stamkos, holding him to only three points on the series. The 25-year-old leader of the Lightning didn’t even score a goal despite 22 shots on net.

“We came hard the first 10 minutes, we put the puck on the net, but we couldn’t get any bounces and just one goal was the difference,” said Mrazek. “We had 10 chances and couldn’t score, and they scored the one goal.”

Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk bulged the twine three times over the series but was unable to pick things up in Game Seven. Henrik Zetterberg was dutifully contained by the Tampa defence, held to just three points and without a goal. He was also a minus-4.

Tampa has to hope that this uptick in fortunes will serve as a sign of things to come. They were swept out of the post-season last year by the Montreal Canadiens and have to be hoping for a measure of revenge in the second ground. The good news for the Lightning is that they hold the edge in the season series. They also outscored the Habs 21-8, so this should be an interesting road ahead.


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