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Lightning ends slump with convincing win over Detroit Red Wings

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For a night – at least, for a night – they were the Bolts again

For a game – if only for a game – they skated like the wind and they played solid defense and they got great goaltending.

For once – if it was only for once – the Tampa Bay Lightning had a terrific penalty kill, and a terrific power play. And they won, 4-1 against Detroit.

The Lightning, of course, has to prove that their play will hold up for the long haul. But it starts with one, and at least the Lightning got that in its win over the Detroit Red Wings.

“It’s just one game,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “So, we needed to start off this little rut of home games, and we had to play with desperation. I thought we did that. There’s a lot we can build off this, no question. Really proud of the effort the guys gave tonight. Our game, it started out west, and our game’s getting better. I know it didn’t pay off with two points against Edmonton , but as that game went on, we just kept going tonight and it was really good to see. But, ultimately, bank those points. Good job fellas.

“We got two more before the break and we got a St. Louis team that gave us a tough time up there, but we felt good about our game when we played them and (we’re) looking forward to another crack.”

The Lightning is 10-1 when taking a first-period lead and 10-3 when scoring the first goal.

The Lightning took a 1-0 lead in the first when Brian Boyle scored, then exploded in the second. Jonathan Drouin, Braydon Point and Vlad Namestikov scored for Tampa Bay.

Detroit scored its only goal when Anthony Mantha scored with 11 seconds to play.

Special teams helped the Bolts, who scored two power play goals and killed five penalties.

“We talk about the power play’s been pretty consistent all year,” Cooper said. “It’s been doing well, but it’s the penalty kill. That’s what wins you hockey games, and if our power play had gone 0-for-6, we still would’ve won this game 2-0 because penalty kill goes five-for-five and you need to be able to keep the puck out of the net. A little bit of bend don’t break in us, but I thought they did a heck of a job and probably the difference in the game.”

Ben Bishop left the game with 12:14 left in the first period. Andrei Vasilevskiy came on and stopped 22 of 23 shots.

“Hopefully this is a short-term thing (to Bishop), but Vasy comes in (and) it’s a tight game still at that point,” Cooper said. “Actually, I thought right before we scored that fourth goal, he makes a couple big time saves. So now you’re sitting here is it 3-1 or 4-0? He makes those saves, we go down and score on the 2-on-1 and that was it. You need your goalie to make that timely save. You’ve got to come up with that big save, and they’ve been doing that and hence we’re getting points out of games, so it’s big.”

 Tampa Bay is home Thursday night against St. Louis.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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