The Detroit Red Wings avoided the season sweep as they shut out their Atlantic Division foes the Tampa Bay Lightning, led by general manager Steve Yzerman.
Tampa won the first three meetings by scores of 4-3 (11/9, shootout), 5-1 (1/29) and 3-1 (3/20).
The first period would remain scoreless, but Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison would be injured after being boarded by Justin Abdelkader.
Detroit’s Joakim Andersson began the scoring at the 5:25 mark of the second period. Defenseman Kyle Quincey took the initial shot, and Andersson was able to deflect the puck through the five-hole of goalie Ben Bishop. It was only his second goal of the season (60 GP).
Two minutes later, Abdelkader continued his torrid pace as he capitalized on a breakaway opportunity, going high blocker-side on Bishop to add to his team’s lead. Prior to Saturday, the Wings had not held a lead in regulation in the previous 15 periods. Abdelkader now has a goal in four straight games and ten in the month of March.
“I thought we came out and played good right away, had a good start,” said Abdelkader. “It was a tight game, there weren’t many shots. Both teams play a similar style of games and both teams are patient. It’s always good though, to get that lead.”
Two additional minutes later, Gustav Nyquist extended the lead to three goals as he managed to backhand a shot to the top shelf of Bishop’s glove-side. There was minimal room on the play, but he managed to score an unbelievable goal.
Luke Glendening would score an empty-netter late in the third period to solidify the 4-0 win for the Red Wings.
Petr Mrazek recorded his second shutout of the season, stopping 23 of 23. Detroit’s PK team went 6-for-6 in the contest.
“It felt great,” said Mrazek. “Two points are huge for us. They’re number one in the NHL in scoring goals, but we did a great job boxing out them in our zone. We slowed them down in the neutral zone, so that was huge.”
Although the Boston Bruins won to move to within three points of Detroit, the win widened the gap to five points. They also have a game-in-hand on the Bruins.
The Wings have eight games left in the regular season, including a tough matchup against the New York Islanders Sunday evening at 5:00 ET. Petr Mrazek will start again in the back-to-back as starting netminder Jimmy Howard has struggled of late.
Of the remaining eight games, four will take place in Joe Louis Arena and two are against opponents who have been eliminated from playoff contention (two games against the Carolina Hurricanes).