The Red Wings hadn't had much luck in the playoffs at home in recent years, including losing both home games to the Boston Bruins last year. After giving up Game 2 in Tampa Bay, 5-1, the Red Wings were coming home hoping that home ice would help get them back on track, and they would in dominating fashion.
The Red Wings were going to get off to a hot start when Tomas Tatar and Pavel Datsyuk ran a give and go play, with Tatar taking a shot that would be deflected off of Pavel Datsyuk's knee, earning him his second goal of the postseason after one of his goals in Game 1 was credited to Tomas Jurco. The Red Wings, with a healthy Justin Abdelkader back, came into Detroit on a high note. They were flying all over the ice, as players like Darren Helm and Luke Glendening were very effective on the fore-checking tonight for the Red Wings.
The Red Wings continued their dominance in the second period. The home fans at the Joe Louis Arena were definitely pumped up, and hoping to see the first Red Wings home win since they played the Chicago Blackhawks two years ago in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. The team looked rested after the extra day off, having a three day break between Games 2 and 3, and was ready to come out and push the Lightning around. Detroit would not go down 2-1 in the series, and they were in no way prepared to give up home ice advantage after stealing Game 1 in Tampa Bay last Thursday at the Amalie.
The Red Wings defense was strong tonight, with solid efforts from every defender, including Brendan Smith who prevented a key three on one opportunity, and made many good plays in his own zone whenever Tampa could maintain possession. The Lightning had only 19 shots, a very impressive feat for the Red Wings defense, and surely helped contribute to a winning effort tonight. The Red Wings were blocking shots, got lots of luck with Tampa hitting the post on three different occasions, and many other opportunities when they had one timers but the puck would not find the stick of the shooter, in most cases Tyler Johnson. Niklas Kronwall, Johnathan Ericsson, and Danny Dekeyser also had solid games as well, and a great defensive effort from forwards as well.
Drew Miller was one of them, as he killed off a huge five on three power play that lasted a minute long in the second period. Justin Abdelkader also had a solid defensive night for the Red Wings, including a big fight in the third period after one of the Lightning players intentionally tripped Petr Mrazek on a scoring opportunity. The Red Wings had to improve their own zone play after the disasters that took place in Tampa Bay, and it was much improved.
Then, there was Petr Mrazek. He played a fantastic game, and stopped every opportunity the Lightning could get and made several key saves, including a breakaway save on Brian Boyle while Detroit was on one of their few power play opportunities they would get. While Mrazek did have help from the defense, the shots that were not blocked by the Red Wings players were saved by Mrazek, resulting in a shutout effort, the first of his career in the postseason. He bounced back extremely well from the four-goal performance in two periods on Saturday afternoon, as Babcock trusted his young goaltender, luckily for the Red Wings, and he gave Babcock the best performance he could ask for in response.
The third period was the best period the Red Wings have played in the playoffs since the Chicago Blackhawks series a couple years ago, as Sheahan would score his first career playoff goal on a great pass from Justin Abdelkader and Luke Glendening scored an empty net goal, shooting the puck all the way across the ice from his own zone.
Detroit now takes a 2-1 series lead, with another game in Detroit on Thursday night, Game 4. If Tampa Bay wins, they will steal home ice advantage back from the Wings and force a Game 6, and if the Red Wings win, they will need to win only one of the next three games, including a potential Game 6 at home, to move on and play what will likely be the Montreal Canadiens.