Similar to opening night, the Detroit Red Wings held a lead against Tampa Bay only to surrender it in the third period.
This time though, Jakub Vrana was there for the rescue.
Vrana potted two goals, including the go-ahead game winner in the third as the Red Wings knocked off Tampa 4-3.
It certainly didn’t come without some heart stoppers near the end. Tampa missed a goal by a whisker on a couple of opportunities late, with the puck banking off the end boards, through traffic, and then being swept away to avert danger.
Detroit has struggled to put away top tier teams late in games, often surrendering leads as young teams often do.
This one went in Detroit’s favor.
Vrana Continues His Impressive Run
The Vrana trade wasn’t supposed to be this good for the Red Wings, was it? With his two-goal night, Vrana has 20 goals in his first 32 games, tied for the Red Wings record.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 20, 2022
It’s been pondered and discussed in many corners of just how different Detroit would look with a full season of Vrana. The 25-year-old forward, however, pays no heed to it.
The team’s performance is where his mind is.
“I’m staying in my lane and focusing on what I can do best to help the team to win,” Vrana said. “I’m confident and like I said, you just gotta focus on the right things to do and then just whatever happens out there, it’s part of hockey. That’s it.”
Vanquishing Vasilevskiy’s Victory Streak
The Red Wings not only earned a tough road victory in Tampa, but they finally escaped the grasp of Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s dominance. Heading into the contest, the dominant netminder boasted a 13-0-4 mark against Detroit. Though they made some headway burying six goals in the October opener, it inevitably wasn’t enough.
Not the case Tuesday night.
The last minute and a half of frantic hockey was a microcosm of what’s necessary for the team to experience success.
“You got to have great goaltending (from Greiss) in those situations and he gave us great goaltending in the end,” Blashill said. “No. 2, I thought there was a level of sacrifice. You saw it with some of those blocks late in the period. And then just doing your job, making sure you do your job and keeping poise and not running around trying to do everybody else’s job.
“Just do your job.”
Red Wings’ Team-First Effort Topples Tampa
Piggybacking off of the success needed to defeat the once undefeated Vasilevskiy, Blashill was quick to point out that a consistent effort in the face of a tough stretch to end the season could yield similar results.
Scoring came from multiple sources, and Detroit didn’t fall apart after giving up a couple goals that tied the game.
“We’re going to need to be complete and do it right,” Blashill said. “We’re going to need to manage the puck, stay above people and I thought our guys made a real intention to play that way. You’re never going to be perfect but we tried to play that way and guys worked. That’s what we’re going to need to do the rest of the way.”
Lucas Raymond Keeps Rolling
Not only did Raymond bury his 23rd goal of the year, he made a play that prolonged Detroit’s pressure in the Tampa zone for nearly a minute (55 seconds). Raymond kicked a puck back into the zone on an attempted stretch pass beyond the Bolts’ blue line. The rookie coralled it, set up a three-on-two chance before fetching the puck back and giving Detroit control again. The Red Wings would hold control for another 40+ plus seconds after seizing the lead back just minutes earlier.
When he’s not scoring goals, he’s making plays that nudge the Red Wings ahead. With 56 points in 77 games, Raymond may cede rookie of the year accolades to his teammate Moritz Seider, but his presence is certainly noted.
“Lucas, he has huge potential here,” Vrana said. “He’s a really talented player that can put the puck in
the net. Since he’s in this league, he’s been proving a lot.”
Blashill lauded Raymond’s compete level.
“Lucas has been a real good all-around player for us and he’s just going to continue to grow,” Blashill said. “He’s got a great competitiveness. He wants to be a great player and he wants to win and those are great qualities.”
The Final Five Games
The Red Wings have their final five games against Florida (away), Pittsburgh (home), Toronto (away), and two road games against New Jersey.
Lottery odds are at stake, but so is pride, something the Red Wings have talked about often.
The win over Tampa showed the compete level is still very much there.
“At the end of the day, it’s a game against a really good team,” Blashill said. “You’re playing for something. That’s a great chance for every player on our team to continue to measure themselves.”