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Lightning aim to get offense going at Red Wings

by Brian Hunter /



Detroit leads best-of-7 series 2-1

The Detroit Red Wings went the final quarter of the regular season without consecutive wins.

If they can win a second consecutive game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday, the Red Wings will take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series.

Detroit limped a bit into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, going 7-10-3 in its final 20 regular-season games. The Red Wings' last winning streak came just before that, when they won three in a row from Feb. 26-March 4.

"It's a race to four," defenseman Jonathan Ericsson told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday. "But it would be huge if we win tomorrow again. I think we have a good chance. We really felt good about ourselves last night. [Goalie Petr] Mrazek really played well too."

The Red Wings have sandwiched 3-2 and 3-0 victories around a 5-1 loss in Game 2. Mrazek and center Pavel Datsyuk have stood front and center in the wins, with Mrazek making 66 saves on 68 shots and Datsyuk providing two goals, one assist and his usual range of intangibles.

"He is better without the puck than he is with it, if you can imagine that," coach Mike Babcock said of Datsyuk, named Tuesday as a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy.

The Lightning have won three of six series they trailed 2-1, including their 2004 Stanley Cup Final win against the Calgary Flames, and gave a spirited effort at practice Wednesday.

"This is far from over," forward Ondrej Palat told the Tampa Bay Times.

Palat, without a point and minus-1 in the series after scoring 16 goals and 63 points with a plus-31 rating in the regular season, is one of several key players the Lightning need to get on the score sheet. Forward Steven Stamkos, second in the NHL with 43 goals this season, has two assists. He had eight shots in Game 1 but has been held to three shots in the past two games.

"Do I think Detroit's going to keep him down for the whole series? I don't," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "I think it's just a matter of time with him."

After being pulled in Game 2, Mrazek stymied the Lightning in Game 3 as he did in the opener, needing to make 22 saves for his first Stanley Cup Playoff shutout. Lightning forward Tyler Johnson said Tampa Bay didn't do nearly enough to make life difficult for the rookie.

"We didn't play our game at all," he said. "We've got to focus on ourselves. We shot ourselves in the foot the entire game."

Rookie forward Jonathan Drouin, who is looking to make his playoff debut, took some shifts at practice in place of Vladislav Namestnikov on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Cedric Paquette, but Cooper said he plans on using the same lineup in Game 4.

Cooper had no update on the status of defenseman Jason Garrison, who hopes to make his return at some point in this series from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him since the end of March.

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