The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t manage to sweep the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2016 NHL postseason, but they came close – and with their fourth win in five games over the fellow Atlantic Division team, the Lightning became the first NHL club to book their ticket to the second round of the playoffs.
The final win was a close one for the Lightning, who finished the game with a 1-0 final decision over Detroit and a large chunk of the game played without top six forward Tyler Johnson (who was pulled in and out of the lineup in the final two periods of the game). The only goal of the game came in the third period, scored by Alex Killorn at the 18:17 mark – not exactly a landslide defeat for the home team.
Nonetheless, though, they managed to pull out the win and advance to the second round before any other team – and they did so not only without Johnson in parts of the game, but without either captain Steven Stamkos or blue liner Anton Stralman in the entire series.
With the victory, the Lightning have now advanced past the first round of the postseason for their second consecutive year, a marked shift from their 2013-14 campaign – during which the club was swept in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens. The Florida-based club failed to qualify for the postseason in either of the two years preceding their sweep.
For the Red Wings, this is now the second consecutive year that the team has fallen in the postseason to the Lightning – and ironically enough, it’s also the second consecutive time that they’ve been eliminated by a shutout for goaltender Ben Bishop, who earned a 2-0 decision in game seven of the first round last year. The Michigan-based NHL club has managed to extend their postseason streak to 25 years, but have struggled through their last three seasons via first round eliminations.
The Lightning will get ample time to rest before they play in the second round, as they’re slated to play one of either the Florida Panthers or the New York Islanders – and the two teams are sitting on a 2-2 series record, meaning that they’ll need to play at least two more games in order to determine a winner.