DETROIT (AP) — Anthony Mantha scored a tiebreaking goal late in the first period, Jonathan Bernier stopped a season-high 40 shots and the Detroit Red Wings beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-4 Thursday night.
“Luckily, goaltending is a huge part of this sport and our goalie was the best player on the ice,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said.
Brayden Point scored twice in a 1:14 stretch late in the game to pull the Lightning within one before they gave up an empty-net goal to Vladislav Namestnikov with 20 seconds left.
Tampa Bay entered the game 19-0-1 against the Red Wings over the last five years, and its 20-game point streak was the longest in franchise history against a team
“We haven’t been good enough in the last few years, so we have poor records against a lot of teams,” Blashill said.
Detroit had lost four straight overall, including the previous game in overtime against the Lightning.
“Taking three of four points against the Stanley Cup champions is a pretty good result for this group,” Troy Stecher said after scoring his first goal in his 20th game for the last-place Red Wings.
Curtis McElhinney gave up three goals on five shots in the opening period and finished with 17 saves in a rare start as the Lightning rested Andrei Vasilevskiy as they closed a season-long, six-game road trip.
“We knew this was going to be a grind and that’s the way it’s going to be this year,” Steven Stamkos said. “You’re in the hotel and at the rink.”
Detroit and Tampa Bay alternated five goals over six-plus minutes midway through the first period.
Stecher, Dylan Larkin and Mantha scored to put the Red Wings ahead. Mikhail Sergachev and Stamkos pulled the Lightning into ties during the opening period in which they outshot the home team 15-5 but trailed 3-2.
“The score didn’t indicate where the game was,” Stamkos said. “They got some of the bounces earlier in the game and you have to give them credit. They came out hungry and their goaltender played very well.”
The Lightning had a lot of chances to cut into their deficit in the second period when Detroit was called for five penalties, including a pair of calls that gave them a 5-on-3 power play for 30 seconds, but could not take advantage.
“Special teams are an important part of the game and you can get as much momentum from a big kill as from a penalty,” Stecher said.
Luke Glendening scored 33 seconds into the third period and Robby Fabbri scored shortly thereafter, giving the Red Wings a three-goal cushion that led to their eighth victory as they reached the midway mark of the 56-game schedule.
McElhinney was pulled to give Tampa Bay an extra skater when Point scored his second goal with 2:55 remaining. The backup goaltender later went to the bench again, and Namestnikov scored an empty-net goal, getting an unselfish assist from Mantha.
CATCHING A BREAK
The Red Wings took advantage of not facing Vasilevskiy, who is 11-0 against them. Vasilevskiy won his seventh straight start in a 4-3 overtime win Tuesday night in Detroit and has an NHL-high 16 victories this season.
The Lightning will raise their Stanley Cup banner Saturday night when they play Nashville. Fans were unable to attend Tampa Bay’s season-opening game two months ago, when the banner was originally scheduled be hoisted to the top of the team’s arena.
“Finally the time has come,” Stamkos said. “The guys are excited and I’m sure the fans are excited.”
Detroit will resume its six-game homestand Sunday against Carolina, which has won seven straight to surge into first place in the Central Division.
“Getting three points against Tampa is big for us,” Blashill said. “We need to build off this, especially with Carolina coming in because that’s one of the best teams in the league.”
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