DETROIT (AP) — Petr Mrazek stood in front of his net after the game and waited for a delighted swarm of red jerseys to come greet him.
So far this postseason, the Detroit Red Wings have been as successful as their young goaltender — and twice in three games, he’s played well enough to win.
Mrazek made 22 saves for his first postseason shutout, and Pavel Datsyuk, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening scored for Detroit in a 3-0 victory over the Tampa Lightning on Tuesday night that gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead in their playoff series.
“He played great,” Detroit forward Drew Miller said. “Maybe (Game 2) didn’t go the way he wanted it to, but we’ve got to help him out a little more on some of those goals that went in. We knew he’d come out like tonight, ready to go and be on his game.”
The 23-year-old Mrazek was coach Mike Babcock’s choice to start in this series instead of Jimmy Howard, and the youngster has acquitted himself well in his postseason debut.
He made 44 saves in a 3-2 victory in the opener, and although he was pulled after two periods in a 5-1 loss the following game, Mrazek bounced back nicely at home in Game 3.
After being outshot badly in the first two games at Tampa Bay, the Red Wings were able to contain the high-scoring Lightning on Tuesday in a tightly contested matchup.
“I thought we were way better,” Babcock said. “I thought we skated and looked like a real hockey team.”
Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader returned from a hand injury and played for the first time since April 4. He assisted on Sheahan’s power-play goal in the third period.
The Red Wings opened the scoring with 11:14 left in the first when Tomas Tatar’s shot from the point appeared to deflect off Datsyuk’s right leg and past goalie Ben Bishop for the 36-year-old center’s 41st career playoff goal.
“They got an extremely fortunate bounce on the first goal,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s the only bounce they got. They didn’t need any more. We didn’t get bounces.”
Tampa Bay’s power play had a great chance to tie it in the second when Glendening and Danny DeKeyser took penalties 64 seconds apart for Detroit, but Tyler Johnson — who scored twice in Game 2 — hit the crossbar during the 5-on-3 and a turnover by Steven Stamkos gave Miller an easy clear during that extended penalty-killing situation.
“The 5-on-3 was a huge part of the game,” Mrazek said. “After that, the game came on our side a little bit.”
The Red Wings didn’t allow many chances from in close, and Mrazek did a nice job controlling rebounds for the most part.
“We could have made it a little harder on him,” Tampa Bay’s Brian Boyle said. “He did make some really good saves though, had some really good saves.”
There was an anxious moment for Detroit later in the second when Niklas Kronwall was called for hooking on a short-handed effort by Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn.
Mrazek stopped Killorn during the delayed penalty, and although the rebound eventually ended up in the net, the Red Wings had already touched the puck to stop play.
Sheahan’s first career playoff goal gave Detroit some insurance with 13:18 left in the third. Abdelkader slid a nice pass to Sheahan, who was alone in front and stickhandled around Bishop.
The Lightning had a good chance to start a rally when Boyle skated in on a short-handed breakaway, but Mrazek stopped that.
Cedric Paquette then tripped Mrazek to pick up a goaltender interference penalty — although Abdelkader came over to stand up for his goalie and was also called for a penalty during the ensuing hostilities near the boards.
“When I saw that play, I thought it was really a dirty play. There’s no need for that,” Abdelkader said. “If I don’t do anything, maybe we’re on a 5-on-3, but I just thought it was a pretty dirty play and I was pretty upset about it.”
Glendening scored into an empty net in the final minute for his second goal of the series.
NOTES: Datsyuk is one of three finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy, which goes to the NHL’s most gentlemanly player. Datsyuk won the award four consecutive years from 2006-2009. … Tampa Bay D Jason Garrison has been out with an upper-body injury, but he continues to skate with his team and could return for Game 4. … Red Wings D Brendan Smith was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the first two games of this series. He replaced Alexey Marchenko in the lineup.