The Detroit Red Wings are back at home, and returning a key piece of the lineup.
Justin Abdelkader, who missed the first two games of the playoffs with a hand injury, will draw back in for tomorrow’s Game 3 at the Joe when the Wings host the Lightning with the series tied 1-1.
Getting Abdelkader back will be a big boost for Detroit, especially after getting spanked 5-1 in Game 2. The 28-year-old scored a career-high 23 goals this season and averaged just under 18 minutes per night — 17:55, also a personal best — and, what’s more, has a wealth of playoff experience with 54 games on his resume.
Based on this morning’s skate, Abdelkader will play on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist, which allows Pavel Datsyuk to center a unit featuring Darren Helm and Tomas Tatar. Abdelkader was also in his familiar spot in front of the net on the power play, where he scored eight times this season.
It looks as though veteran Stephen Weiss will be dropped from the lineup to make room.
One of Detroit’s four 20-goal scorers won’t be in the lineup tonight for its series opener against Tampa Bay.
Justin Abdelkader, who scored a career-high 23 times this year, will sit out this evening’s tilt with a hand injury carried over from the regular season. Abdelkader suffered the ailment on April 4 against the Minnesota Wild and missed the final four regular-season games, but did practice this week in the hopes of being ready for Game 1.
Without him in the lineup, the Red Wings will make some adjustments.
The biggest of which might be putting Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on a line with Darren Helm. That trio provides plenty of offense — Datsyuk had 65 points in 63 games this year, Zetterberg 66 in 77 — and Helm scored a personal best 15 goals.
As for the rest of the lines…
Gustav Nyquist – Riley Sheahan – Tomas Tatar
Stephen Weiss – Joakim Andersson – Tomas Jurco
Drew Miller – Luke Glendening – Landon Ferraro
While head coach Mike Babcock does have some good depth here and nice options in reserve, Abdelkader will still be missed. He’s blossomed into a good net-front/power forward type and, despite being just 28 years old, has a wealth of postseason experience — 70 career playoff games heading into this spring.
The Washington Capitals moved closer to clinching a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
The Caps will clinch if Ottawa loses to the Toronto tonight.
Washington’s win moves them into second in the Metropolitan Division one point up on the New York Islanders.
Detroit’s loss leaves a log jam in the Atlantic Division as three points separate the Wings, Bruins and Sens.
Mike Green had a goal and an assist in the win. Evgeny Kuznetsov had Washington’s other goal. Braden Holtby, who made a franchise-high 23rd straight start, stopped 35 shots for the win. Holtby’s win was his 40th of the season and the 100th of his career.
The 25-year-old is the second goaltender in Caps’ history to record 40 wins in a single season joining Olaf Kolzig.
With his assist on Green’s goal, Alex Ovechkin has 80 points tying him for second place with John Tavares in the Art Ross race.
Darren Helm had the lone Wings goal. Petr Mrazek made 26 saves in the loss.
There was a scary moment in the third.
Protecting a one-goal lead, Caps’ forward Tom Wilson went down to block a Niklas Kronwall slap shot and took it off the side of the head. Wilson stayed down momentarily, but was able to skate off under his own strength. He left the game and did not return.