Tampa Bay Lightning (40-24-9) at Detroit Red Wings (33-26-14)
|Date & Time||Sunday March 30, 2014, 5:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Detroit Red Wings -110 / Tampa Bay Lightning +100 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Detroit Red Wings inched closer to a playoff spot on Saturday night and they might have put the final nail in the Toronto Maple Leafs' coffin. Detroit and Toronto were tied at 80 points heading into their meeting on Saturday but Detroit had two games in hand and after coming away victorious put themselves in a great position for a post season berth. The Red Wings trailed 1-0 after one period of play but in the second it was quick and early goals from Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist that changed the complexion of the game. Helm got the Red Wings on the board with a short handed goal and Nyquist continued his sensational play with his 26th goal of the season to even the score. Watching Nyquist play lately has been a real treat and he's been arguably the most important piece for Detroit in their run over the last month. Helm then scored his second of the game to give the Red Wings the lead bofore Toronto cut the deficit to one heading into the third. Helm finished off the the hat trick with his 10th goal of the season to lift the Red Wings to an important 4-2 victory. This Detroit club has been beaten down and battered all year long with injuries but the way guys are stepping up has been impressive. If the Red Wings can just get in the dance and get some guys healthy they have a chance to be a hockey club that makes some noise against higher seeds that no one expects to lose. Mike Babcock does such a great job with this group but he'll have his hands full yet again on Sunday with his team facing a back-to-back against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tampa Bay bounced back nicely after a couple of losses and took advantage of some below average clubs by racking up four more points. A 3-2 victory over the Islanders was followed up by a 4-3 win over the Sabres. It was a tumultuous first period that saw the teams exchange blows and Tampa wondering what hit them after Buffalo jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Trailing by two late in the first period it was Alex Killorn with his 16th goal of the season to get the Lightning on the board with just over two minutes to play in the period. With just 14 seconds remaining in the period Steven Stamkos scored his 22nd goal of the year to tie the game heading into the second period. After falling behind once again in the middle frame it was Ryan Callahan's power play goal that evened the score once again and Stamkos delivered the game winner with his second of the night in the third period. The Lightning look like they'll face off with the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs in what should be a fast paced, high scoring series. The Canadiens travel well and should have plenty of fans making the trip to Florida to root on their club, but Tampa's offensive firepower is hard to ignore. If Ben Bishop can continue to build on his 36 wins and provide this team with quality goaltending they're going to have a chance to go a long way.
The Red Wings return home for this one and need these points more than the Lightning. Tampa is the better hockey club but at this point in the season desperation plays a big role.