Red Wings at Lightning game preview

Time: Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
TV: Sun Sports

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, which is 1-2-1 over 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, which had gone 1-13-0 with one tie all-time at Joe Louis Arena before winning there last month.

That defeat is part of a stretch for Howard during which he is 1-4-5 with a 2.81 GAA.