The Tampa Bay Lightning organization is modeling themselves after Detroit Red Wings on and off the ice.
“This was going to be a measuring stick for our organization to see where we stand as a hockey club,” said Bolts GM and former Red Wing Steve Yzerman about the importance of the matchup.
Well the Red Wings came into the St Pete Times Forum Thursday night and showed the Lightning that they still have some growing up to do; and they still have to learn on how to do all the little things that great hockey teams need to do to win games.
“We have a long ways to go to get to that level,” head coach Guy Boucher said about his teams performance. “This is the best team we have faced all year period end of story.”
The Red Wings got several contributions with Pavel Datsyuk’s netting effort and Dan Cleary tallying three points; while goaltender Jimmy Howard made 38 saves and didn’t appear to be rattled at all by the Bolts offense.
Tampa started to get momentum and tied the game at 2-2 in the second period with goals from Victor Hedman and Steve Downie. However, a questionable penalty call on Vinnie Lecavalier for goaltender interference halted any momentum they gathered up to that point.
Detroit then came down and scored a power play goal, as Niklas Kronwall shot a puck that went off two Lightning defenders and in the net to give the Wings a 3-2 lead.
The Lightning continued to play hard and never quit but it was not enough to down the red hot Wings, as they extend their win streak to three.
Boucher was quick to state that the Wings have been the standard in this league and his team is farther along than expected but they have to shore some holes up before the playoffs begin.
“We have a long ways to go to get to that level,” said the Bolts coach. “We have two months to get there.”
“They played better than us 5-on-5,” added Lecavalier. “They were much better with the small details as a unit.”
If Yzerman was going to use this game tonight to decided how aggressive he was going to be at the trade deadline then this game showed that there are still a number of holes that need to be filled if they want to be an elite hockey team.
Things are tightening up in the division for the Bolts and they face their in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers, Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.