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Sunday, Jul 15, 2018
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Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning’s penalty-kill units rise to challenge

— According to the score sheet, the Lightning won Friday night’s Game 2 with a three-goal outburst in the third period.

The Red Wings know better.

Given a chance to take command in the second period as Tampa Bay players made a steady trek to the penalty box, Detroit was unable to capitalize on a succession of power plays.

Lightning forwards Ryan Callahan, Valtteri Filppula, Ondrej Palat, Brian Boyle and Cedric Paquette led a dynamic penalty-kill unit that continually stifled the Red Wings.

“We’ve got to stay out of the box, and that was too any penalties in a row,” Callahan said. “But our PK came up big for us tonight.”

Although Detroit briefly tied the game at 2 on a power-play goal by Brad Richards early in the third period, the pivotal late moments of the second period set the stage for Tampa Bay’s 5-2 victory.

With 8:10 left in the second period and Tampa Bay clinging to a 2-1 advantage, standout defenseman Victor Hedman was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct. Only 13 seconds after the Lightning killed off that penalty without allowing a shot, Hedman went to the box for hooking.

Again, the NHL’s No. 13 power play was stifled without testing goaltender Ben Bishop.

With 2:25 remaining in the period, Boyle was sent off for interference after a mid-ice collision with Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.

Final tally: Three power plays, three shots, zero goals.

“That was the part of the game where we took the momentum,” Paquette said. “You don’t always see three penalties in a row like that, and our defense did a great job, blocking shots and getting their sticks in the way. We talk about the PK a lot around here and we’ve gotten better at it.”

The Red Wings went 1-for-10 on the power play in dropping both games at Amalie Arena, and coach Jeff Blashill knows a 10 percent success rate simply won’t do as the series shifts to Motown.

“They’ve got a good PK and we’ve got to find a way to get pucks to the net,” Blashill said.

Many of Tampa Bay’s 15 blocked shots came when the Red Wings skated with a manpower advantage.

“We’ve got to keep our emotions in check,” Boyle said. “Give credit to Cally and Filppula, who were outstanding on the penalty kill. We work on it all the time and we take a lot of pride in it.”

The Lightning penalty-kill unit, which finished the regular season ranked No. 7 in the league at 84.0 percent, has stepped up in the glare of the playoffs.

“A lot of people might be surprised we’re up 2-0 in this series,” Paquette said. “We’re not.”

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Twitter: @IKaufmanTBO

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