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.
Abby Out: No Abdelkader (hand) for Detroit in Game 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.
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.
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.
Wilson went through concussion protocol, Trotz said, but hasn't gotten the results back yet. Will be reevaluated tomorrow.
Red Wings star Pavel Datysuk says he’s “good to go” for tomorrow’s game in Minnesota.
Datsyuk has missed the last two games with what MLive is calling an “ankle issue.” The 36-year-old also missed five straight games before returning to the lineup for a pair of contests last weekend. His health remains a concern with the start of the playoffs less than two weeks away.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock wasn’t willing to guarantee Datsyuk’s spot in the lineup versus the Wild, saying, “We played him on a line today (in practice) like he was playing, but we don’t know how it’ll react so we’ll decide tomorrow morning.”
Datsyuk centered Darren Helm and Tomas Tatar in practice.
The Wings have just four wins in their last 15 games.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Florida Panthers forward Brandon Pirri scored twice in Thursday night’s 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Pirri now has 16 goals in 22 games. However, he may have lost his lucky stick. During the third period Leafs forward Richard Panik flipped Pirri’s stick over the glass (see video below). Panik received a misconduct on the play. A lucky fan five rows up received a nice souvenir as a result.
“That was a weird play,” chuckled Pirri post-game. “It got pretty deep in the crowd.”
Richard Panik wasn't happy about 10-minute misconduct but says "at least the kid got a stick."
Want to have former New York Yankee Derek Jeter as a neighbor? Buy Vincent Lecavalier’s house. Lecavalier’s Florida home, which is a few doors down from Jeter, is currently on the market. (Tampa Bay Times)
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A young Boston Bruins fan received a hockey card Thursday night. Liam Fitzgerald, who was born with Down syndrome and beat a leukemia diagnosis, received the card from Upper Deck.
Connor McDavid had quite an impact on attendance in the Ontario Hockey League this season. Teams entertaining McDavid saw a 20 percent increase in attendance when the Erie Otters were in town. (NHLtoSeattle.com)
Darren Helm’s girlfriend gave birth to the couple’s daughter on a Michigan highway this week. (Detroit Red Wings)
Actor Matthew Perry was on Jimmy Kimmel Live this week and discussed his friendship with L.A. Kings’ forward Anze Kopitar.
Ken Campbell writes the Arizona Coyotes need to win the NHL Draft lottery more than the Buffalo Sabres. (The Hockey News)