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article imageOne good shot enough for Tampa in 'knife fight' with Red Wings

By Mark J. Allan     Apr 29, 2015 in Sports
Although Steven Stamkos kept firing blanks, defenseman Braydon Coburn scored early in the third period as Tampa eliminated the Red Wings from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Heeding coach Jon Cooper’s advice to bring a gun to a knife fight, the Tampa Bay Lightning needed only one shot Wednesday.
Although super sniper Steven Stamkos kept firing blanks, defenseman Braydon Coburn scored early in the third period as Tampa blanked Detroit 2-0, eliminating the Red Wings from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Fellow blueliner Anton Stralman added an empty-net goal in the only undecided NHL best-of-seven first-round series.
Before a 5-2 Lightning win in Game Six, Cooper called out the Wings for interfering with opposing players more than any other team in the league. Trying to motivate his players to overcome adversity, he used the knife fight analogy.
Speaking of interference, Stamkos and Riley Sheahan received offsetting minor penalties for it at 12:46 of the third period, negating a Lightning goal scored seconds later.
Many shots were nullified by winning goalie Ben Bishop, who made 31 saves as Detroit played with desperation on enemy ice. Rookie Petr Mrazek, making a strong case to replace veteran Jimmy Howard in the Wings’ net, stopped 15 of 16 shots.
While Stamkos finished the seven-game series with a mere assist, second-line center Tyler Johnson led the Lightning with seven points, just one off the first-round lead. Johnson’s six goals are tied for the playoff lead.
Tampa defenders Andrej Sustr and Victor Hedman are one-two in plus/minus, while Johnson’s linemate Nikita Kucherov and teammate Ryan Callaghan are tied for third.
In one interesting off-ice storyline, Tampa general manager Steve Yzerman watched his team defeat the team he played for brilliantly in a Hall of Fame career.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings’ off-season will include contract talks with Mike Babcock, perhaps the best coach in the NHL.
The Lightning visit the Montreal Canadiens to begin a quarter-final series Friday at the Bell Centre.
In the other eastern series, the Washington Capitals open Thursday in New York against the President’s Cup-winning Rangers.
In the West, the upstart Calgary Flames challenge the mighty Anaheim Ducks beginning Thursday and the Minnesota Wild travel to Chicago to begin a series Friday against the Blackhawks.
More about Nhl playoffs, Hockey, Tampa bay lightning, Detroit red wings
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