Palat scores late, lifts Lightning to 3-2 win over Red Wings
DETROIT >> Ondrej Palat scored with 2:59 left in the third period, lifting the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night and a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.
Game 5 is Thursday night at Tampa Bay.
Ben Bishop stopped 26 shots for the Lightning and Petr Mrazek made 30 saves for the Red Wings.
Palat was in a perfect position right in front of the net to make the most of Jonathan Drouin's pass on the game-winning goal. Drouin had three assists.
Nikita Kucherov had power-play goals in the first and second period to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead late in the second, but Detroit's Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist scored late in the period to tie the game.
The Lightning struck first by scoring at 5:41 of the first on a power play and scored again midway through the second period with an extra skater, a rare sight earlier in the series.
And, it was a beautifully setup goal.
Brian Boyle won a faceoff, sending the puck back to Victor Hedman and he skated toward the front of the net. Hedman carried the puck from left to right and passed it back to where he was standing to Drouin, who pushed the puck through the left circle to Tyler Johnson, whose diagonal pass back to the right dot perfectly set up Kucherov for a one-timer nine seconds into the power play.
Tampa Bay took advantage of another power play when Jonathan Ericsson failed to clear the puck, keeping the puck in his team's end and it ended up in the back of the net on Kucherov's shot from the slot off a slick, centering pass from Drouin.
The defending Eastern Conference champions scored three times on the power play. And, they prevented Detroit from scoring on the man advantage.
Over the first three games of the series, the Lightning were 1 of 14 on the power play and Detroit was 1 of 17 with at least one extra skater.
Detroit rallied after that goal. Helm stuffed a shot into the net from the right side off a pass from Luke Glendening with 5:07 left in the second.
The Red Wings seemed to skate faster and hit harder after pulling within a goal and Nyquist went charging up the ice to get to a puck chipped ahead by Justin Abdelkader.
His pressure led to the puck getting turned over to Riley Sheahan, who flipped it to Nyquist for the goal.
Detroit kept the pressure on the Lightning early in the third and looked as if it would go ahead when a pass went toward Henrik Zetterberg on the side of an open net, but former teammate Valtteri Filppula pushed the puck away.
Pavel Datsyuk, who has said he will retire from the NHL after the playoffs and return to Russia, drew a penalty with 8:16 left in what might end up being his last game at Joe Louis Arena.
Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin hit the right post and the puck caromed just outside of the goal line and away from the net on a power play that included only one shot.
Ericsson was called for cross-checking with 4:42 to go, giving the Lighting a chance to go ahead with their third power-play goal of the game and they took full advantage to move a step closer toward eliminating Detroit in the first round for the second straight year.
Mrazek was pulled late in the game, giving the Red Wings an extra skater, but they still struggled to generate much offense.
NOTES: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman attended the game after getting a tour of District Detroit, which includes an arena the Red Wings plan to play in during the 2017-18 season. "It's awesome," Bettman said. "And, it's awesome what it will do for the city." ... Tampa Bay's Matt Taormina made his playoff debut, replacing Erik Condra, who made his postseason debut in Game 3, as the team suited one more defensemen and one fewer forward. ... Nyquist had scored only one goal in his previous 20 games.
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