By Dory LeBlanc
Following Saturday morning's optional skate, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Ben Bishop's status had gone from day-to-day to hour-by-hour and that a decision would be made around game-time.
With Bishop getting an extensive amount of work in pre-game warmups, it was not a surprise when it was announced that he would get the nod between the pipes.
In the 6,000th meeting between the two clubs, the Lightning surged late to beat the Red Wings 4-2 in the final game before the league-mandated Olympic break.
Both Detroit's Jimmy Howard and Bishop were putting on a goaltending clinic until 17:18 in when Red Wings forward Daniel Alfreddson slipped the puck between Bishop and the far post off of a nice feed from Pavel Datsyuk to take the 1-0 lead.
1:09 into the second period, the Lightning were given their second man-advantage opportunity after Tomas Jurco was sent to the penalty box for boarding Tyler Johnson. 35 seconds into the power play, the NHL Rookie of the Month Ondrej Palat showed why he was selected for the honor, scoring the equalizer and ending Tampa Bay's scoreless PP drought, which had gone 0-for-17 until Palat's goal.
Both teams remained close as far as shots and faceoffs won, but a Nate Thompson penalty for high-sticking gave the Red Wings a power play and the momentum. 19 seconds after the penalty to Thompson ended, Jurco scored on a backhander to break the stalemate.
With less than three minutes left in the middle frame, Tom Pyatt snuck the puck past Howard to tie the tilt back up at 2-all.
Through two periods, the Red Wings led in shots on goal (26-21), faceoffs won (24-16), and hits 13-12. But Tampa Bay edged out Detroit in blocked shots (10-8), takeaways (6-1), and unfortunately for the Lightning, giveways (10-3).
The third period was eventful, but remained scoreless until 3:11 to go in regulation when Alex Killorn finds a rebound and lights the lamp to give the Bolts a 3-2 lead.
Detroit head coach Mike Babcock opted to pull Howard with about 1:12 left to play, which Palat decided to seal the victory with his second goal of the night - an empty netter with 1:03 left on the clock, giving the Lightning the 4-2 win.
First Period -
1. DET Alfreddson (Datsyuk) 17:18
Second Period -
1. TB Palat (St. Louis, Hedman) 1:44
2. DET Jurco (Sheahan, DeKeyser) 11:19
3. TB Pyatt (Salo, Brown) 17:14
Third Period -
1. TB Killorn (Purcell, Pyatt) 16:49
2. TB Palat (Johnson, Salo) 18:57
Shootout Tally: N/A
Shots On Goal:
DET - 33
TB - 28
DET - (1) Kronwall - High-Sticking; (2) Jurco - Boarding; (3) Lashoff - PS - Holding on Breakaway
TB - (1) NONE; (2) Thompson - High-Sticking; Carle - Tripping; (3) Purcell - Tripping
Next up for the Bolts: The NHL will have the league-mandated break beginning tomorrow and ending when NHL play resumes on the 25th. The Lightning will play their first game on the 27th when they travel to Nashville to take on the Predator at 8:00pm. You can catch all of the action on sister station 970 WFLA with Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and Dave Mishkin giving the call with coverage beginning at 7:30pm.