TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning won 50 games for the first time ever this season, but they know their 18-16-7 road record is nothing to celebrate.
However, the Lightning feel they played better on the road at the end of the season, and they hope to draw on those experiences Tuesday in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, FS-F, FS-D).
Tampa Bay must win one game in Detroit to take the home-ice advantage back in the best-of-7 series after splitting the first two in Tampa.
"I think we've done a better job on the road recently even though our record isn't great," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "We did a better job of controlling our emotions and you have to keep an even keel on the road because you don't want the crowd or the atmosphere to get to you."
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said the Lightning have played better on the road than their record might indicate. They were 1-1-0 in Detroit in the regular season.
"I think we've won some pretty big games on the road and we've won them in some tough buildings," Cooper said. "Joe Louis Arena is a fun place to play and there's so much history wrapped up in that building. But you have to put those things aside and focus on playing the right way and trying to get out of there with a win."
Forward Brian Boyle said the building has some interesting characteristics to it.
"The puck definitely can take some funny bounces off the boards," Boyle said. "Certain things seem to happen there that don't happen in other places."
Cooper said the Lightning will likely remain with the same lineup for Game 3, meaning defenseman Jason Garrison (upper body) will not play and forward Jonathan Drouin will be a healthy scratch.
"Garrison probably won't play Tuesday but after that it will be close," Cooper said. "We'll probably be making game-time decisions."
Garrison's return would force Cooper to make a tough decision. Nikita Nesterov has three goals and five points in the past four games and is unlikely to be benched. Andrej Sustr would be the other option, and he scored a goal Saturday in Tampa Bay's 5-1 win.
As for Drouin, Cooper said that he expects the 19-year-old rookie to stay prepared and ready.
"At some point during the playoffs, if you make any kind of run, everyone is going to play," Cooper said. "It's inevitable it will happen."