Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning opens season with win over Red Wings

TAMPA — Tyler Johnson said there have't been many changes to the power play.

There's a new voice in assistant coach Todd Richards, who runs drills in practice.

But it's the new guy who is running the show on the ice: wing Jonathan Drouin, who could be the biggest difference-maker in the much-maligned unit, and hence, the Lightning's shot at a Stanley Cup.

Drouin proved that with a dazzling display in Thursday's 6-4 win over the Red Wings on opening night at Amalie Arena. With a goal and an assist on the power play, Drouin helped buoy a three-goal performance by the unit, which ranked 28th in the league last season.

The Lightning scored more than two power-play goals in a game just once last season.

Drouin had the third-most ice time among forwards, 18:58, behind Johnson and Alex Killorn.

"The game has slowed down for Jo," coach Jon Cooper said. "That kid has got wonderful vision on the ice. He had a heck of a game."

RELATED: Get ready for a special season, Lightning fans, Tom Jones writes.

Drouin wasn't the only one who did. Cedric Paquette's two-point night — one point more than he had in 17 playoff games last season — sparked Tampa Bay's comeback from a two-goal deficit. Brian Boyle scored the tying goal, giving the Lightning two goals from its bottom six. Victor Hedman had two assists in another monster 24-minute game. Goalie Ben Bishop closed the door, becoming the franchise's all-time saves leader, passing Daren Puppa.

But it is Drouin, positioned on the side wall, who gives the Lightning the power-play quarterback it has needed. It's a familiar spot for Drouin, who was a fixture there in juniors. "That's where I like to be," he said.

From that spot, Drouin stepped into the right circle and ripped a laser over the shoulder of Petr Mrazek to bring Tampa Bay within 2-1 midway through the second. "That was pretty unbelievable," Johnson said.

Johnson scored the go-ahead goal with a power-play goal of his own in the third, a nifty redirection of a pass from Steven Stamkos, who received the largest ovation from the sellout crowd of 19,092 during introductions.

RELATED: The Lightning's new goalie plan is more starts for Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Drouin set up the eventual winner, though, a diagonal pass right on the stick of Killorn.

"He's very offensively gifted, there's no doubt," Johnson said of Drouin. "He can make some plays. When he's going … he's helping us make a difference. He has that confidence, moving it around, playing huge."

This one was far from perfect. The Lightning was at times sloppy in its zone, gift-wrapping two goals for Detroit with turnovers. "We gave them two goals," Cooper said. Bishop, who bailed out the Lightning so often last season, gave up a juicy rebound on the Red Wings' third goal. Detroit scored twice on its first five shots, putting Tampa Bay in an early hole. Kucherov, one of the game's top young scorers, missed the net on a second-period breakaway.

But the power play for once helped save the day.

"We have been working a lot on it in the preseason," Johnson said. "We talked about it. We had to have better execution. It wasn't acceptable what we did last season. I thought we did a pretty good job (Thursday)."

Joe Smith can be reached at Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Lightning 0 2 4 6
Red Wings 2 1 1 4

First Period1, Detroit, Vanek 1 (Nielsen, Zetterberg), 3:12. 2, Detroit, Vanek 2 (Nyquist), 8:26. PenaltiesCoburn, TB, (holding), 2:40; Dekeyser, DET, (interference), 3:39; Ott, DET, (slashing), 5:26.

Second Period3, Tampa Bay, Drouin 1 (Hedman, Killorn), 7:23. 4, Detroit, Nielsen 1 (Larkin, Green), 8:18. 5, Tampa Bay, Paquette 1, 13:05. PenaltiesGreen, DET, (hooking), 6:10; Sustr, TB, Major (fighting), 14:30; Smith, DET, Major (fighting), 14:30; Coburn, TB, (roughing), 14:30; Ott, DET, (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:30; Ott, DET, (roughing), 14:30; Coburn, TB, (roughing), 14:30; Larkin, DET, (hooking), 18:43.

Third Period6, Tampa Bay, Boyle 1 (Paquette), 3:17. 7, Tampa Bay, Johnson 1 (Stamkos, Palat), 8:34. 8, Tampa Bay, Killorn 1 (Hedman, Drouin), 16:50. 9, Detroit, Dekeyser 1 (Helm, Green), 17:55. 10, Tampa Bay, Filppula 1, 18:39. PenaltiesDetroit bench, served by Tatar (too many men on the ice), 8:29; Garrison, TB, (hooking), 13:24; Palat, TB, Major (fighting), 13:24; Ericsson, DET, Major (fighting), 13:24; Ericsson, DET, (instigator), 13:24; Ericsson, DET, Misconduct (misconduct), 13:24; Nesterov, TB, (holding), 13:57; Detroit bench, served by Vanek (too many men on the ice), 16:23. Shots on GoalDetroit 9-12-14—35. Tampa Bay 5-12-15—32. Power-play opportunitesDetroit 1 of 2; Tampa Bay 3 of 6. GoaliesDetroit, Mrazek 0-1-0 (35 shots-30 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 1-0-0 (32-28). A19,092 (19,204). T2:56. RefereesDave Jackson, Tim Nowak, Kelly Sutherland. LinesmenBrad Kovachik.

Lightning opens season with win over Red Wings 10/13/16 [Last modified: Friday, October 14, 2016 11:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Red state: Yes, Bill O'Reilly is a Bucs fan


    TAMPA -- The question was simple enough for Bucs fans: Why is former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly wearing a red Bucs polo?

    O'Reilly was wearing the polo during a few video clips from his "No Spin News" podcast posted on his website Monday, which was exciting news for some Bucs fans and not-so-exciting …

    Former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly was sporting a red Bucs polo during his "No Spin News" video podcast Monday. An assistant said the shirt was given to him by former Bucs tight end Dave Moore.
  2. For starters: Slumping LoMo, Dickerson not in Rays lineup tonight vs LHP


    1B Logan Morrison and LF Corey Dickerson, two of the main slumpers in the Rays lineup, are not in tonight's lineup with the Orioles throwing LHP Wade Miley.

    Logan Morrison is 0-for-12 on this homestand.
  3. Ex-Buc Booger McFarland becomes ABC college football analyst


    Former Bucs defensive lineman Booger McFarland is continuing his broadcasting rise by joining ABC's studio coverage for the upcoming college football season, ESPN announced Tuesday.

    Former Bucs lineman Booger McFarland (No. 92) will become an ABC studio analyst this college football season.
  4. Rank the top 10 Bucs players? Here's what fans said


    We mentioned this morning that is was a fun challenge, in response to Sports Illustrated's ranking of the NFL's top 400 players, to ask fans to rank their top 10 Bucs players.

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston during last year's Bucs win against the Seahawks. Evans and Winston finished 1-2 in an informal Twitter poll of fans ranking their top Bucs players.
  5. Brain study examined 111 former NFL players. Only one didn't have CTE.


    Researchers studying the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy found that 99 percent of the brains donated by families of former NFL players showed signs of the neurodegenerative disease, according to a new study published Tuesday.

    This combination of photos provided by Boston University shows sections from a normal brain, top, and from the brain of former University of Texas football player Greg Ploetz, bottom, in stage IV of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. According to a report released on Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, research on the brains of 202 former football players has confirmed what many feared in life -- evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a devastating disease in nearly all the samples, from athletes in the NFL, college and even high school. [Dr. Ann McKee | BU via AP]