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.
The 2015 Stanley Cup playoff schedule includes four games today beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to bounce back after falling 3-2 in Game 1 on Thursday night. The Bolts out-shot the Wings 46-16, but struggled to beat Detroit starter Petr Mrazek.
Pavel Datsyuk had his first multigoal playoff game since 2010 as Detroit handed Tampa its fifth straight postseason loss. Five of the six Tampa Bay playoff losses have been by one goal.
Puck drop is at 3 p.m. ET. You can also watch online via NBC Sports Live Extra.
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St. Louis will try to even up its best of seven with the Minnesota Wild tonight at Scottrade Center. The Blues have won just one of 19 series when losing Games 1 and 2.
Thursday’s 4-2 win was the Wild’s first Game 1 win since April 2003. With the win the Wild improved to 2-9 in their last 11 road playoff games.
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There wasn’t a ton of outside optimism regarding Detroit’s chances going into the first round series. We are talking about a team that asked a 23-year-old goaltender with no playoff experience to face the best offensive team in the league. Playing netminder Petr Mrazek tonight was a reflection of starting goaltender Jimmy Howard’s recent fall from grace more than anything else, but it worked out as Detroit earned a 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay in Game 1.
Mrazek, who had a career .891 save percentage against Tampa Bay in three contests going into this game, managed to save 44 of 46 shots for the Red Wings. Tampa Bay dominated from a shots perspective from start to finish and were particularly aggressive in the third, firing 19 shots. Without Mrazek’s strong performance, Detroit would not have won tonight.
He didn’t capture this one alone though. Pavel Datsyuk, who was by contrast playing in his 146th career postseason contest, made up for Detroit’s lack of shots on goal by beating Lightning netminder Ben Bishop twice. His second marker was scored just eight seconds into the second frame to give Detroit a 2-1 lead:
However it was ultimately 25-year-old Luke Glendening’s shorthanded spin-o-rama that resulted in the winner tonight:
Tampa Bay has now conceded the home ice advantage in this series to the Red Wings. That puts the pressure on the Lightning to respond on Saturday before this series returns to Detroit.
The Detroit Red Wings didn’t get a shot on goal until 9:03 minutes into Game 1 in their first round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Thanks to Pavel Datsyuk’s work in front of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, one shot was all Detroit needed to take the early lead.
When Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan got sent to the sin bin roughly five minutes later due to a holding call, the Red Wings had an opportunity to give themselves some breathing room. Instead Brian Boyle got a big breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it, beating netminder Petr Mrazek one-on-one:
Pavel Datsyuk was assessed a minor penalty towards the end of the first period, which led to Red Wings forward Drew Miller getting his own shorthanded breakaway. Bishop managed to turn aside that shot though and the first period ended tied at 1-1.
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.