Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning game preview
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been taking advantage of a month-long stretch they’ll spend mostly at home.
All of the Detroit Red Wings’ recent success has come on the road.
Looking for a seventh straight victory at Amalie Arena, the Lightning can halt the Red Wings’ road surge and avoid a third loss in as many meetings this season Wednesday night.
Tampa Bay (27-18-4) returns from the All-Star break at the halfway point of a 14-game stretch in which 11 will be played at home. Five of the first six came at Amalie, where the Lightning are 15-8-2 and in the midst of their longest winning streak since last season’s 10-game run.
Steven Stamkos scored a first-period power-play goal and backup Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves to help Tampa Bay to its eighth victory in nine games, 1-0 over Toronto at home last Wednesday.
"We’re getting back on track," Stamkos said after snapping a five-game goal drought with his 21st.
Tied with Detroit (25-16-8), the Lightning come out of the break feeling good about themselves.
"We’re back in playoff (position)," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "That’s what you want … Get the points."
Tampa Bay failed to record a point in the first two meetings with the Red Wings, but gets its first crack at home. Though the teams split the four played there in last year’s first-round playoff series, the Lightning have allowed five goals during a four-game regular-season home winning streak over Detroit.
All-Star Ben Bishop has yielded two goals in each game against the Red Wings this season, made 31 saves in a 2-0 Game 7 home victory over them in April and posted a 1.22 goals-against average in those last four regular-season meetings at Amalie.
Stamkos has two goals and an assist in his last three regular-season home contests against Detroit.
The Red Wings have dropped five in a row at home, but went 7-1-0 on the road in January. They’ll look to win a fourth straight away from Joe Louis Arena in the opener of a back-to-back against the Florida teams.
"It will be a good test for us," coach Jeff Blashill told the Red Wings’ official website. "We know Tampa’s played great here lately.
"We think we’ve gotten better in our game … We got to make sure to do everything we can to put ourselves in the best position to win."
The Red Wings have been sparked by Petr Mrazek, who has posted a 1.11 GAA in a 6-1-1 stretch and a 1.28 mark while winning seven straight road starts. Among the NHL leaders in GAA, Bishop (2.02) and Mrazek (2.03) are expected to match up for the first time this season.
Jimmy Howard stopped 49 of 51 shots in the first two games against Tampa Bay. However, he’s given way to Mrazek, who posted a 2.29 GAA and recorded three shutouts while going 4-5-0 versus the Lightning during the regular season and playoffs in 2014-15.
Mrazek has also been a big reason why the Red Wings have killed 25 of 28 penalties over the last 10 games.
Fresh off a successful All-Star weekend, Detroit rookie Dylan Larkin has recorded two goals and six assists in eight road games. He has one of each against the Lightning this season.
"He wants to be a long-term great player," Blashill said of Larkin, tied for the team lead with 33 points.