DETROIT — The Tampa Bay Lightning gained ground in the Discover Central Division in a 1-0 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday.
Curtis McElhinney made 15 saves for the Lightning (34-14-3), who had won four straight.
“We’ve still got a few games left before we jump into the real hockey,” he said.
Tampa Bay is tied with the Florida Panthers for second in the eight-team Central Division, two points behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes. Florida and Carolina each play later Saturday.
Each of the three teams has clinched a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth.
“I like the way we’ve been playing, and we did everything we could to win that hockey game,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Every point is magnified right now, but I’d happily take that game all over again.”
Thomas Greiss made 33 saves for his second straight shutout for the Red Wings (18-26-9), who had lost three straight. Greiss, whose shutouts are the only two the Red Wings have this season, has not allowed a goal in 136:31.
“I’m feeling good, but I’m also getting some breaks right now,” he said. “They had a couple 2-on-1s tonight where they couldn’t put the puck in an open net. That’s what you need.”
Sam Gagner scored the deciding goal in the eighth round of the shootout.
“The way you win games like this is with hard work from everyone on the team,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We aren’t going to make the playoffs, but we still had guys laying out to block shots with three games left in the season.”
Greiss made 33 saves in a 1-0 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. He is 5-0-3 with a 1.45 goals-against average and .953 save percentage in his past nine games (seven starts).
Ryan McDonagh beat Greiss with a shot from the point at 10:37 of the third period, but the Red Wings used a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference on Ondrej Palat and the call on the ice was overturned.
“I’m not trying to hit the goalie there, I’m just trying to get in front of him,” Palat said. “I thought the defenseman pushed me into him.”
Joe Veleno and Gagner took minor penalties 14 seconds apart in the third period but the Lightning were unable to score with 1:46 of a 5-on-3 power play.
“When you don’t score there, you are playing with fire,” Cooper said. “We came close, but the goalie stopped one and the crossbar stopped the other one. Give [Greiss] credit. He played well.”
Detroit was 4-for-4 and blocked three shots on the penalty kill.
“That was huge,” Greiss said. “Those guys were like a wall in front of me.”
Greiss stopped Alex Killorn on a breakaway with 1:40 left in overtime.
Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was a healthy scratch, with Christopher Gibson backing up McElhenny. Vasilevskiy, who is 12-0-0 against Detroit, could start when the teams play the second game of the two-game set here Sunday.
“We’ll see,” Cooper said. “We’ve got a plan for [Vasilevskiy] down the stretch.”
NOTES: McElhenny is 4-4-4 in 12 NHL games against Detroit. … The Red Wings have scored two goals in their past four games but have points in three of them (1-1-2).