PITTSBURGH -- Detroit Red Wings
forward Tomas Holmstrom
put an end to speculation regarding his status for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final when he did not participate in the pre-game skate at Mellon Arena.
Holmstrom, who suffered a hamstring injury in the third period of Game 3 following a collision with Pittsburgh Penguins
defenseman Hal Gill
did not practice with the team on Friday but skated on Saturday morning. His status remained in question up until this evening, when he was nowhere to be found on the ice.
"From the beginning, I was stiff," Holmstrom told redwings.com on Saturday morning. "It went better the longer I skated and got warm."
With Holmstrom unable to play, veteran forward Darren McCarty
returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past two games. McCarty dressed for Game 1, but became expendable once Johan Franzen
returned from concussion-like symptoms.
"He did just what everyone else did," Babcock said of Holmstrom, who has four goals and eight assists this postseason. "He felt pretty good. He's going to come back for the game tonight, see how he feels.
"If he's ready to go, he's playing. If not, obviously he'll be scratched."
Red Wings players were pretty secretive when asked about Holmstrom. In fact, some claimed they weren't paying attention to how the 35-year-old looked out on the ice.
"I didn't see him out there," Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski said. "If he plays, that's great. You want him out there and doing what he does. He's someone that's going to compete. At this time of the year, you're going to play through just about anything."
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom hopes to have Holmstrom back in the lineup, but if he's unable to play, the game plan does not change. While Detroit fired 16 shots in the third period on Wednesday night and 34 overall, Lidstrom believes the Red Wings can improve in that department in Game 4.
"Hopefully he'll be ready to go," Lidstrom said. "I didn't see him skate, but hopefully he'll be ready for tonight's game. One of the keys for us in the playoffs is to get more shots. We've got to get guys at the net, too. We've got to create some traffic in front."
The Red Wings are aware their power play needs to be better than it was on Wednesday, when Detroit went just 1-for-5 with the man advantage. Regardless of Holmstrom's status, Babcock believes his top unit -- which boasts the likes of star forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg -- will do a better job of generating chances tonight.
"They're going to respond like they always do," Babcock said. "The power play is going to be on fire and they're going to play well. The great thing about good players is they do it right 99 percent of the time. And when they have a little drought, it's usually pretty exciting for the coach, because you know they're coming right back."
Sidney Crosby started the comeback for Pittsburgh in Game 3 with a pair of goals. His first tally was the first for the Penguins in this series after being blanked in the first two games in Detroit. But if the Red Wings can revert to their suffocating defense tonight, it will put them in a position to win the Stanley Cup in front of their hometown fans on Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.
"It is motivation for us," Lidstrom said. "You want to win every game and put yourself in the best position possible. We can do that by winning tonight. We know we have to bear down a little bit more defensively and play a little bit tighter in our own end. But we've got to sustain some pressure on their 'D' a little bit more."