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Abdelkader, Smith to return to Red Wings lineup

by Paul Harris /

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings will have two lineup changes for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, FS-D, FS-F).

The series is tied 1-1.

Forward Justin Abdelkader will return after missing six games with an injured hand, and defenseman Brendan Smith will be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for three games.

Abdelkader, who will replace Stephen Weiss in the lineup, is a big (6-foot-2, 210 pounds), physical forward who scored 23 goals during the regular season.

"Big body, provides a great physical presence, you know he's going to be a net-front guy, battles real hard, strong on the puck, forechecks real good and wins pucks for you," Red Wings right wing Gustav Nyquist said. "Shown over the year he can score a lot of goals too. Real good touch for putting the puck in the net. He's real valuable for us."

Abdelkader's return will also allow coach Mike Babcock to split up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Datsyuk was centering a line with Zetterberg on left wing and Nyquist on right wing in the first two games.

Datsyuk will center Darren Helm on right wing and Tomas Tatar on left wing, and Zetterberg will center Abdelkader on left wing and Nyquist on right wing.

"Putting (Zetterberg) back in the middle and giving him a winger, a guy that can skate and work for them helps," Babcock said. "[Abdelkader's] a big body. He's an every day-er. He competes hard like Helm."

Smith, who was benched after taking a penalty for punching the puck back into play with his glove while sitting on the bench in the next-to-last game of the regular season, will replace rookie Alexey Marchenko, who played in the last regular-season game and first two games of the series.

"[Smith] can really skate and competes," Babcock said. "I don't think we're skating good enough and I don't think we're competing hard enough."

Smith will be paired with Marek Zidlicky. The two played together from the time Zidlicky was acquired from the New Jersey Devils at the March 2 NHL Trade Deadline until Smith was benched.

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