In a key game for both sides, it was important to get off to a good start. The Red Wings would do so, as Pavel Datsyuk would score the first goal of the series against the Lightning. Kyle Quincey took a shot from the point, which would be deflected in by Datsyuk, ready to tip the puck past Ben Bishop for the first goal of the series. It would also be the Red Wings first shot of the game, a very important shot for the Red Wings.
Brian Boyle of Tampa Bay then made a nice play along the boards while on the penalty kill, tipping the puck just out of reach of Marek Zidlicky, the Red Wings defenseman, and ended up tying the game at one a piece going into the first intermission. As soon as the second period started however, Darren Helm, playing the wing, helped the Red Wings win a face off, before making a nice play around the net, getting the puck to none other than Pavel Datsyuk, to give the Red Wings the lead a mere eight seconds into the second period.
It would remain 2-1 all the way until around five minutes into the third, when Luke Glendening would tip the puck past the Lightning defenseman on the Power play, similar to what Boyle did earlier in the game, before spinning around Lightning forward Valterri Fillpula and putting a back handed shot right past Ben Bishop's five hole, giving the Red Wings a 3-1 lead. After Nikita Nestorov would score for Tampa a couple minutes later, Mrazek was on fire and kept the lead 3-2 for the rest of the game, sending all the fans of the Lightning home sad.
Despite the Red Wings win, they have to be disappointed with their play tonight. Almost the entire game not including Red Wings Power plays was spent in their own zone. The Red Wings gave Tampa Bay control of the boards, as the Lightning won almost every single battle along the boards all game long. Tampa Bay also outshot the Red Wings by a crazy 46-14 margin, 32 shots, resulting in the lowest shot total the Red Wings have ever achieved in playoff history in the franchise's long existence.
Darren Helm was arguably Detroit's player of the game tonight. He played alongside Datsyuk, assisting on both of his goals, while playing big minutes on the penalty kill, holding Tampa Bay's Power play to a poor 0-7 with a Shorthanded goal allowed. Petr Mrazek had a fantastic play, including a huge save on Braydon Coburn, snatching a puck close to the net from a wrist shot to keep the Red Wings in the lead during the second period. Pavel Datsyuk had the best game, however, scoring two of the three Red Wings goals, playing against the Steven Stamkos line and holding them scoreless, as well as making several neutral zone and defensive zone plays that kept the Red Wings out of even more Tampa scoring opportunities than they already had. Luke Glendening also had a fantastic game for the Red Wings scoring the game winning goal Shorthanded, as well as playing on a penalty kill that was extremely effective tonight for Detroit.
Steven Stamkos and Braydon Coburn combined for a total of 15 shots, which between the two of them was actually more than the whole Red Wings team. Stamkos created a lot of opportunities for Tampa and used his speed well, but with Petr Mrazek on the top of his game, he couldn't find a way to put a puck into the net in game one. Coburn had many opportunities himself as well, including a breakaway where Mrazek would make a critical glove save to preserve the Red Wings lead. Tyler Johnson was also all over the ice making plays, and gave Tampa a lot of chances to make something happen.
After finishing the regular season as the best home team in the NHL by win percentage, the Lightning struggled on the road during the regular season, and are one of the worst road teams in the playoffs. The Lightning tried everything they could to help out their team on home ice, including restricting ticket sales to only people who have Florida zip codes and by not allowing fans with red wings attire into specific areas of the stadium, however this did not help the Lightning best the Red Wings. All Detroit has to do now is win their three home games and they will win the series. However the Red Wings and their fans would love to head back to Hockeytown up 2-0 with two home games and all the momentum heading in their direction.
The next game is Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM Eastern time, at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay. The Red Wings will enter up 1-0 in the series, with goaltender Petr Mrazek almost certainly keeping his spot in net after his fantastic performance in game one, while Ben Bishop will likely stay in net for Tampa Bay as well.