DETROIT — After playing Saturday night in New Jersey, Sunday’s late afternoon meeting with Detroit was already going to make for a quick turnaround for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Travel delays getting out of Newark following the game against the Devils made the turnaround even shorter.
The team plane sat on the tarmac at Newark International Airport for more than two hours awaiting clearance to leave following a full day of snow in the area that turned to freezing rain by the time the team headed for the airport.
With all the delays, the team arrived in Detroit on Sunday at 2:45 a.m. and showed up to the downtown hotel just before 4 a.m., or 13 hours before the puck dropped for Sunday’s game.
“I think it obviously changes a few things, as your routine is going to be different, you are getting to sleep at a later hour, but you’re also getting to sleep in a little bit more,’’ LW Alex Killorn said. “So it’s just part of it, you realize that during the season there are going to be times like this that you just have to maybe drink a little bit more water just be a little more prepared, but it’s nothing that’s too out of the ordinary for us.’’
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said the Lightning have already endured other travel-related issues this season — coming out of Montreal, Columbus and Washington — so they are accustomed to dealing with such issues. And with many of the players on the team having played in the American Hockey League, where three games in three days during the weekend is a common occurrence (with the third game generally starting mid-afternoon), it’s not out of the ordinary.
“It’s part of the deal, and it’s what we signed up for,’’ Cooper said. “(Saturday’s travel) is unfortunate ... but we are playing a team that also played (Saturday) and maybe got a few more hours of sleep in their own bed than we do. But we will never use that as any excuse.’’
RW Dana Tyrell came up with what turned out to be a big shot block early in the third period when he stepped in front of a Brian Lashoff shot at 5:18 with the net partially empty behind him. With Tampa Bay up 1-0 at the time, it preserved the lead, and four minutes later the Lightning took a 2-0 lead.
“The puck kind of went out to their D man, he had a lot of time and he made a good shot, so I just had to lay down and block that one,’’ Tyrell said.
When he returned to the bench, Tyrell received plenty of praise for the play.
“We score a couple of goals and guys come back to some pats on the back, but when Dana made that block, everybody got up off the bench and came to give him a pat on the back,’’ Cooper said. “So that tells you a little bit about our team when a play like that happens.’’
Sunday’s game featured 15 combined players who squared off in last season’s Calder Cup finals between Syracuse (Tampa Bay’s affiliate) and Grand Rapids. The series was won in six games by Grand Rapids, denying back-to-back championships for the Lightning’s top farm system.
There were eight Lightning players — defensemen Radko Gudas, Mark Barberio, Andrej Sustr and Mark Barberio along with forwards Tyler Johnson, J.T. Brown, Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik — and seven Detroit players — goaltender Petr Mrazek, forwards Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening plus defenseman Brian Lashoff.
“Going to the Calder final, we knew a bunch of those players were going to be up in Detroit, and a lot of them were up during the year, they are great players,’’ Johnson said. “It’s kind of a cool thing to having been able to play against them before knowing what they can do and have a little bit of confidence that way.”
Nuts and Bolts
RW Panik returned to the lineup after sitting out two games due to suspension, playing 9:09 of ice time with one shot on goal. ... LW B.J. Crombeen and LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie were scratched. ... Entering the game, the two teams combined for 10 players on injured reserve. ... Red Wings LW Johan Franzen did not return to the game after taking an elbow from Gudas early in the second period.