Petr Mrazek was Detroit’s starter in goal Saturday and did nothing to lose that role.
Now coach Mike Babcock is ready to play him again.
Mrazek made 23 saves for his fourth career shutout, and the Red Wings beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0. Mrazek got the start after two straight shaky performances by Jimmy Howard, and Detroit became the first team all season to shut out Tampa Bay, the league’s highest-scoring team.
Mrazek will play Sunday, when the Red Wings visit the New York Islanders.
"He didn’t have much work today, so that gives him an opportunity to go tomorrow," Babcock said after Saturday’s game.
That wasn’t exactly a definitive statement on Detroit’s goaltending pecking order, but with the regular season winding down, Mrazek made a good case for more playing time.
"I thought he was real solid," Babcock said. "We didn’t give him a ton of work, but he was real good with the puck. That helps our `D’ — and he was solid when he needed to be."
Joakim Andersson, Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist scored for Detroit in the second period, and Luke Glendening added an empty-net goal in the third. The Red Wings won in regulation for the first time in six games.
Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk returned after missing five games with an undisclosed lower-body injury.
If the current standings hold, Detroit and Tampa Bay would face each other in the first round of the playoffs, a matchup that would draw plenty of buzz because former Red Wings star Steve Yzerman is now the general manager of the Lightning.
Detroit beat Tampa Bay for the first time this season.
"We knew they’re like that — they’re number one in the NHL in scoring goals," Mrazek said. "We did a great job boxing out in our zone, and we slowed them down in the neutral zone."
The 23-year-old Mrazek made only his third start for the Red Wings in the last month, but he also played well earlier this season when Howard was injured.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, finished the game with a couple more injury concerns. Defenseman Jason Garrison left early in the first after being knocked into the boards by Abdelkader, who received a minor penalty.
"What do you think? Behind the numbers, vulnerable position? Guys have gotten multiple games for that type of hit," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It’s a judgment call. Abby’s an honest player. He plays hard. Because he plays the game hard, he’ll find himself in situations like that."
Tampa Bay center Cedric Paquette had to be helped off the ice late in the third when he crashed into the net while preventing Abdelkader from scoring an empty-net goal. Paquette’s left leg appeared to stretch awkwardly on the play.
"Neither of them look good," Cooper said of the injuries. "It would be a big blow if those guys aren’t available."
The Red Wings had the better chances in the first period and finally broke through in the second when Andersson batted an airborne puck down through Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop’s legs to make it 1-0.
Abdelkader beat Bishop high to the blocker side on a breakaway for his 23rd goal of the season, and Nyquist added his 24th when he beat defenseman Matthew Carle to the puck on what at first looked like it might end up being an icing call. Nyquist reached out, chipped the puck in the air with his stick, and it went over Bishop’s left shoulder and in.
Moments after Paquette’s injury, Glendening scored into an empty net, shooting as he fell to the ice near his own blue line. The puck slowly slid all the way down the ice and into the unguarded goal.
The Lightning came into the game a point behind Montreal atop the Atlantic Division, and they lost in regulation for only the fourth time against a division opponent. They play their next four games on the road, including a matchup with the Canadiens on Monday night.
NOTES: Ottawa is the only remaining team that hasn’t been shut out this season, according to STATS. … Tampa Bay D Braydon Coburn (lower body), Red Wings C Riley Sheahan (upper body) and Detroit RW Erik Cole (upper body) were out with injuries.