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3 things we learned as Lightning end skid, beat Red Wings in OT

Tampa Bay, which had lost three straight, breaks through on two power-play opportunities.
Lightning center Brayden Point scores on Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic during overtime Detroit on Saturday afternoon.
Lightning center Brayden Point scores on Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic during overtime Detroit on Saturday afternoon. [ PAUL SANCYA | Associated Press ]
Published Mar. 26|Updated Mar. 26

The Lightning cashed in on two power-play opportunities Saturday to prevail 2-1 in overtime against the Red Wings in Detroit and break a three-game losing streak.

“I thought we did a really good job just sticking to it and really just not getting frustrated,” said goaltender Brian Elliott, who got the start and made 26 saves.

“I thought our body language was better, just kind of keep pushing forward, and the more you stick with the game plan, the better the results.”

Here’s what we learned about the Lightning (40-18-6):

Penalty kill performs well without Ryan McDonagh

Behind defenseman Victor Hedman’s 25:20 average ice time entering Saturday, defenseman Ryan McDonagh had the second highest, 22:36, and led the team with 116 blocked.

One of those blocked shots proved costly to McDonagh late in the third period Thursday against the Bruins. On Saturday before the game, he was ruled out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

McDonagh also plays a key role on the top penalty-kill unit, which has been in transition since forward Mathieu Joseph was traded to Ottawa for forward Nick Paul and a 2024 fourth-round draft pick last Sunday.

On Saturday, the Lightning took back-to-back penalties just over halfway through the first period. Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was called for interference, and 47 seconds later, defenseman Cal Foote — who made his first appearance in the lineup since March 10 at Calgary — took a cross-checking penalty.

The penalty kill kept the Red Wings at bay, limiting Detroit to three shots on goal.

For the game, the penalty kill was 5-for-5.

No rust for Brian Elliott

Lightning goaltender Brian Elliott defends against Red Wings center Pius Suter (24) in the second period.
Lightning goaltender Brian Elliott defends against Red Wings center Pius Suter (24) in the second period. [ PAUL SANCYA | Associated Press ]

Elliott went two weeks between starts — his last a 4-1 loss at Edmonton on March 12 — but had no issues jumping into action early.

Elliott (7-3-2) was particularly good during the penalty kills, making three saves that included an impressive glove snag against forward Lucas Raymond on the Red Wings’ second power play with 5:12 remaining in the first period.

Detroit pushed into the offensive zone with just over 30 seconds remaining on the man advantage. Forward Dylan Larkin fished out the puck from the corner and passed it backward toward the slot and into the hands of Raymond, who quickly fired off a shot.

“(Elliott) was fantastic,” center Brayden Point said. “Fantastic game, kept us in it, made a ton of saves. … I thought early on he was a big difference-maker.”

Elliott’s save streak continued through another set of back-to-back penalties early in the third period. By the end of the game, he had made eight saves on power plays.

His lone hiccup came 8:41 into the third when center Oskar Sundqvist slipped a shot under his arm that trickled past the goal line for a 1-0 Detroit lead.

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Power play has life

 Lightning center Steven Stamkos celebrates his tying goal in the third period.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos celebrates his tying goal in the third period. [ PAUL SANCYA | Associated Press ]

The Lightning had three chances to make a difference with a man advantage. And they finally found ways to cash in.

Tampa Bay’s first opportunity came more than halfway through the second period as Red Wings defenseman Olli Juolevi was called for holding. But the Lightning couldn’t produce much outside of one shot on goal from Steven Stamkos.

With 4:38 remaining in regulation, Stamkos got the tying goal on the Lightning’s second power play with assists from Point and Anthony Cirelli.

With 35 seconds remaining on the power play, Cirelli shuffled a pass from just outside the crease to the bottom of the slot. Point caught the puck and gently slid it to wide-open Stamkos, who had a clear view of the net from the left side as he sent a shot past Alex Nedeljkovic (34 saves).

The captain’s celebration after the goal said it all as he sat on the ice and let out a scream.

In overtime, Point scored on the Lightning’s third power play of the game.

“The guys were a little dejected (after Boston),” coach Jon Cooper said. “Today was different, though, and we talked about that. We don’t know who’s going to score first, but if it’s not us, let’s make sure we’re engaged and I thought — actually, we played our best hockey of the game once they scored. I really like that about our team, hopefully we keep that going.”

Tampa Bay’s power play has struggled since the start of the team’s stretch of 11 games in 11 cities, which began March 6 in Chicago. Since then, the Lightning have gone 5-for-31 on the power play.

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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