Red Wings-Lightning Preview

Neither the Detroit Red Wings nor Tampa Bay Lightning have much

explanation for letting a third-period lead turn into a tough

defeat in their most recent contests. All they know is that they

better work out their issues quickly.

Both teams look to avoid a third consecutive loss as Tampa Bay

hosts Detroit on Thursday night.

The return of Pavel Datsyuk, who missed the previous seven games

with a concussion, seemed to spark the Red Wings (15-9-8) through

the first two periods Tuesday in Florida, as he assisted on Todd

Bertuzzi’s power-play goal before netting one of his own.

Their two-goal lead evaporated, though, before they suffered a

3-2 shootout loss to Florida, dropping both games of a

home-and-home set.

“We started out pretty good the first two periods, and then in

the third I don’t know what happened,” defenseman Jonathan Ericsson

said. “I have no explanation except we were terrible out there. We

made it hard on ourselves and easy on them. (We) just invited them

into the game again.”

Coach Mike Babcock was pretty vague about what caused the

meltdown for Detroit, 1-2-1 in its last four.

“You want to leave here with two points and feel good about

yourself,” Babcock said. “You win the shootout, you feel good about

yourself. You don’t win in the shootout, I have to answer questions

(reporters) are asking.”

Tampa Bay didn’t have any answers for Alexander Ovechkin, who

scored four goals – including the tying tally with 32.4 seconds

remaining in the third – to help Washington win 6-5 in a shootout

Tuesday.

The Lightning (17-10-3), who were coming off a 2-1 overtime loss

to Winnipeg on Saturday, scored the game’s first three goals then

regained the lead on Ondrej Palat’s goal midway through the

third.

“We threw 40-plus shots on net and scored (five) goals. We

should have been able to win a hockey game with that,” coach Jon

Cooper said. ”(Ovechkin) didn’t even have to work for his goals.

That’s the disappointing part.”

Martin St. Louis and Tyler Johnson had a goal and two assists

apiece for Tampa Bay, which is 1-2-2 over its last five. It scored

one more goal Tuesday than it had combined over its previous four

games.

Tampa Bay scored twice on the power play after going 2 for 30

over its previous 10.

“We were looking for our power play to help us get going,” St.

Louis said. “We scored some early goals and that’s what you want on

the road. We just couldn’t close it.”

Teddy Purcell scored in overtime to give the Lightning a 3-2 win

over Detroit on Nov. 9, snapping a six-game losing streak in the

series. Henrik Zetterberg scored twice for the Red Wings and Steven

Stamkos added a goal for Tampa Bay, but both currently are out with

injuries.

Ben Bishop stopped 25 shots for the Lightning in the last

meeting, and he could be back in net despite a rough outing against

the Capitals. He went into that contest having gone 2-2-1 with a

0.99 goals-against average over his previous five starts.

Jimmy Howard made 31 saves in the first matchup with the

Lightning, who have never posted consecutive wins over the Red

Wings since entering the league in 1992 and are 6-24-1 with two

ties all-time in the series.

That defeat is part of a stretch for Howard during which he is

1-4-5 with a 2.81 GAA, and he won’t be in net for this game after

injuring a knee in practice Wednesday. The Wings plan to

re-evaluate him Friday in Detroit.

Jonas Gustavsson seems likely to get the start in net, as he’s

listed as probable despite a hip flexor. The Wings also recalled

goalie Petr Mrazek from Grand Rapids of the AHL.

Daniel Alfredsson has four goals and six assists in his past

nine games for Detroit.