Wings can’t handle new-look Triplets line, Bolts take 2-0 series lead

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Who needs Steve Stamkos when you’ve got Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn?

That’s what Tampa Bay fans have to be at least thinking — maybe not out loud, but quietly — after Friday’s 5-2 win over Detroit at Amalie Arena, one that gave the Bolts a commanding 2-0 series lead.

For the second straight game, the “Revamped Triplets” line proved too much for the Red Wings. Johnson, Kucherov and Killorn combined for eight points — four of them from Johnson — which came after a Game 1 in which the trio went for seven.

So yeah, 15 points in two games. No wonder the Red Wings are in a hole.

As for tonight, Brad Richards and Dylan Larkin replied for Detroit. It was the first Stanley Cup playoff goal for Larkin, the Red Wings’ star rookie, but it came on a night in which Larkin and his mates just couldn’t keep pace with the new-look Triplets.

The original Triplets Line, you’ll recall, featured Ondrej Palat in place of Killorn — and last year, Palat’s chemistry with Johnson and Kucherov saw him rack up a career-best 63 points during the regular season, and another 16 in 26 playoff games.

Killorn, at least trough two games this series, hasn’t missed a beat.

After a solid regular season in which he scored 40 points, Killorn’s found similar success playing alongside Johnson and Kucherov, and was a thorn in Detroit’s side all night on Friday.

Speaking of thorns in sides, Detroit and Tampa Bay really don’t like one another. After a hostile Game 1 in which the two sides combined for 36 penalty minutes, the teams upped the ante on Friday, combining for a whopping 109.

There was also Danny DeKeyser‘s big, questionable hit on Ondrej Palat midway through the contest, which seemed to add more fuel to the fire:

Ben Bishop had another solid night in goal for Tampa, finishing with 30 saves on 32 shots. Though he was at no fault for the loss, Jimmy Howard finished with pedestrian numbers — four goals allowed on 30 shots, and .867 save percentage.

The series now shifts to Detroit, where the Red Wings will host the Bolts in Game 3 on Sunday. That gives head coach Jeff Blashill 48 hours to try and come up with a way to stop Johnson, Kucherov and Killorn.

If Blashill doesn’t, this series isn’t going much longer.