Report: Datsyuk (lower-body ache) to be evaluated before Red Wings host Blues

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For a second consecutive game, the Detroit Red Wings, playing the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, were without veteran forward Pavel Datsyuk.

He did not make the trip to Florida, as per the Detroit Free Press, with head coach Mike Babcock saying Datsyuk had a lower-body ache.

The Red Wings return back to Detroit, where they will host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. It remains to be seen if Datsyuk, who has 58 points in 57 games, will be in the lineup for that tilt.

Goalie nods: Ben Bishop, excellent lately, to face Red Wings

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Ben Bishop seems to have rounded into form.

The Lightning goalie, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, got off to a rather mediocre start in 2014-15, but he’s been excellent lately. With his “mojo back,” he’s allowed just 15 goals on 248 shots in his last nine starts (7-1-1), for a save percentage of .940 over that stretch.

Here’s a pretty nice stop he made in Monday’s 4-2 victory over Montreal:

Bishop will get the nod again tonight when the Lightning host the Red Wings, while Jimmy Howard will be in goal for Detroit.

Elsewhere…

Anders Lindback for the Sabres at home to the Devils, who are going with Keith Kinkaid.

Frederik Andersen likely for the Ducks at home to the Avalanche, who are expected to go with Semyon Varlamov.

Goalie nods: Panthers return ‘our MVP’ Luongo for key tilt versus Wings

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Luongo back for Florida

Roberto Luongo will play for the first time since Mar. 3 when the Panthers host the Red Wings in Sunrise this evening.

Luongo, who’s missed the past six games with a shoulder injury, draws back in looking to keep Florida’s playoff hopes alive. The Panthers went an impressive 3-2-1 during his absence with journeyman Dan Ellis in goal, but know their chances of making the postseason are increased greatly with Bobby Loo in net.

“[Luongo] has been our MVP all year long,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said, per NHL.com. “He’s been a great player for us and a great leader and a great character. He’s going to come in tonight and try to do his best.

“He’ll work hard and compete hard and I’m sure the guys will be excited to see him.”

Florida heads into tonight’s action seven points back of Boston (the Bruins take on the Sens in Ottawa tonight), but still has three head-to-head matchups remaining against the B’s.

For Detroit, Petr Mrazek gets the call in net tonight.

Elsewhere…

Sharks at Leafs: Antti Niemi vs. Jonathan Bernier

Canes at Habs: Anton Khudobin vs. Carey Price

Bruins at Senators: Tuukka Rask (probable) vs. Andrew Hammond

Blues at Jets: Brian Elliott vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Caps at Wild: Braden Holtby vs. Devan Dubnyk

Pens at Stars: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Kari Lehtonen (probable)

Flyers at Flames: Steve Mason vs. Karri Ramo

Jackets at Canucks: (No Columbus starter yet) vs. Eddie Lack

Avs at Coyotes: Semyon Varlamov vs. Louis Domingue

Video: Stars like Crosby, Datsyuk want 3-on-3 overtime

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Bob McKenzie was in the NBCSN studio on Wednesday at an ideal time, as he was able to add some color to the talk of 3-on-3 overtime and other issues from the NHL GM meetings.

McKenzie passes along some interesting tidbits, especially how Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk and others feel about the idea of having all that extra room in OT.

Related

How close is the NHL to adopting 3-on-3 OT?

Wings send Marchenko to Grand Rapids

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The Detroit Red Wings have assigned d-man Alexey Marchenko to AHL Grand Rapids.

The moves leaves the Wings with seven healthy defenseman as they prepare for games Thursday and Friday in Florida (without Pavel Datsyuk).

Marchenko, a right-shooting blue-liner from Russia, has not played since Feb. 28 due to an oblique strain.

On that note, when the Wings acquired veteran right-shooting d-man Marek Zidlicky at the deadline, coach Mike Babcock made sure to say that they still “really like Marchenko” and that they’re “going to make sure he’s playing.”

The Griffins have games this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Related: Zidlicky drawing rave reviews from Red Wings