|DET||1||1||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|TBL||0||2||2||(0 - 0)||4|
RED WINGS (26-19-12) at LIGHTNING (32-20-5)
TV: NHLN-US, FS-D+, SUN
Last 10: Detroit 6-2-2; Tampa Bay 4-5-1
Season series: The Tampa Bay Lightning have won all three games this season against the Detroit Red Wings, though two went beyond regulation. Tampa Bay hadn't beaten Detroit since 2003 before this season and has beaten the Red Wings six times in 33 games in the franchise's history.
Big story: In the 6,000th game in franchise history, Detroit will try to close the gap between the teams to three points. Tampa Bay will be without its top two centers as Valtteri Filppula joins Steven Stamkos on the injured list.
Red Wings: Detroit was in danger of falling behind a bushel of Eastern Conference teams in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the Red Wings have rallied with points in seven of eight games (5-1-2) and holds in the second wild-card spot. Pavel Datsyuk returned Thursday, playing on the wing, but could return to his traditional spot at center on Saturday.
"It's first game I played in one month, it's a little easier to play on the wing. But I'm hoping I play [Saturday] at center," Datsyuk told MLive.com.
"It was great to have him on board again," captain Henrik Zetterberg told MLive.com. "I thought he played real well his first game and is just going to get better."
Lightning: Filppula is out with a broken ankle, which will keep him from playing for Finland in the Sochi Olympics, but could also miss a minimal number of games for Tampa Bay because of the timing. Stamkos will be evaluated again during the break, and it is possible the team will have both back when play resumes or shortly after that. Tampa Bay had tied the Boston Bruins for the division lead, but losses in four of five have left the Lightning in danger of falling out of a top-three spot in the Atlantic.
"I was really looking forward to going to play in the Olympics. I don't really know what to say, it's tough right now," Filppula said. "Something positive is that it's not too bad of a break, so I should be back pretty soon after the Olympics."
Who's hot: Gustav Nyquist has nine goals in nine games for the Red Wings, matching his total from his first 63 career games. … Ondrej Palat had 16 points in 15 games to earn NHL Rookie of the Month honors for January. He has a goal in three February contests.
Injury report: Detroit might be the healthier team, which has rarely been the case this season. The Red Wings will be without three regulars against Tampa Bay -- forwards Johan Franzen (concussion) and Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) and defenseman Jakub Kindl (lower body). … Stamkos (leg) had hoped to return for the Lightning in time to also play for Canada at the Olympics, but he remains out. Filppula told reporters he hopes to play in Tampa Bay's first game after the Olympic break Feb. 27. Goaltender Ben Bishop (upper body) did not finish the game Thursday night and did not practice Friday. Backup Anders Lindback (ankle) is also out, so Cedrick Desjardins replaced Bishop and could be in line for the start Saturday.
|M. St. Louis||58||25||31||56||+15||6||8||4|