DETROIT >> With seven minutes and 28 seconds left in the third period, the tide of the Wings’ best-of-seven shifted for their favor to Tampa Bay’s all because the loss of one player … Luke Glendening.
Glendening went out after getting into a scuffle with Victor Hedman after suffering a right-hand injury and needed to be stitched up.
Glendening didn’t return to the game.
And during his absence, the Lightning scored three unanswered goals, all from their triplet line, to even the series with Detroit, 2-2, after a 3-2 win in overtime.
“I’ve watched him in the minors,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “I watched him play when they unfortunately beat us in the Calder Cup. He’s, I don’t know how to describe, he’s an extremely responsible player. There aren’t a lot of guys out there like the Glendenings. He’s done a heck of a job on our guys.
“To lose a player that plays an extremely important role for them, you look back know because we came back to win the game, so it was potentially a huge factor,” Cooper continued. “He’s a good player for them. There’s no question it had an effect because the triplet line there. They just have a vibe going on that first one and for him not to be around I’m sure there was a little bit of an effect.”
Glendening’s line, with wingers Drew Miller and Landon Ferraro, had put the clamps on Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov for nearly six periods at Joe Louis Arena.
That was until Glendening wen out.
“Obviously it was big play in the game,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I really thought we should be going on the power play there but I can’t control those things. Obviously getting his hand cut and missing the rest of the game matchup-wise, Johnson’s line got the next three goals.”
Johnson scored his first of two with 5:26 left in regulation and Glendening off the ice getting stitches after him and Hedman were sent off for roughing.
Johnson setup Palat for the equalizer just over a minute later.
“That’s just the way the game goes,” Glendening said. “Obviously I was frustrated not being able to be out there. He’s a dynamite player and when he gets time and space he can do special things.
Then, Johnson ended it just 2:25 into overtime.
“I don’t know, you’d have to ask Johnson,” Babcock said when asked why Glendening is so good against the Johnson line. “He’s a good player, he plays hard, he can skate. We think he’s OK. Just like all injuries in playoffs. You really don’t know until game time but the doc says they sewed him up and he’s going to be fine.”
Johnson now has four goals and an assist in the series.
“Just trying to limit their time and space,” Glendening said. “Miller and Ferraro have been great, trying to control the puck when we can. Blocking shots.”