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Mrazek rewarding Red Wings with strong performance

by Paul Harris /

DETROIT -- Detroit Red Wings rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek will look to build off his second shutout of the series when the Red Wings play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference First Round series on Monday at Joe Louis Arena (7 p.m. ET; CBC, CNBC, TVA Sports, FS-F, FS-D).

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock elected to start Mrazek rather than veteran Jimmy Howard when the Stanley Cup Playoffs began. Howard and Mrazek were each inconsistent late in the regular season, but Mrazek went 16-9-2 with a 2.38 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and three shutouts in 29 regular-season games.

Mrazek has justified Babcock's faith with a 1.91 GAA, .937 save percentage and two shutouts in five playoff games.

Babcock said it isn't a surprise that Mrazek has played so well.

"He was a star in junior," Backcock said Sunday. "His first year in the [American Hockey League] he wins the Calder Cup. You don't win the Calder Cup by accident so he must be good. And every time we called him up, he played good. He plays good so he must be good."

Defenseman Danny DeKeyser also praised Mrazek.

"He's been great for us," DeKeyser said. "I don't know that there were many people outside of this locker room or this area who thought he would play this well. But he's been great for us. He's made some big saves at the right time."

Mrazek has outplayed Lightning goalie Ben Bishop in the series. Bishop has a 2.22 GAA and .901 save percentage.

One of the keys to Mrazek's success has been his ability to remain even keel and not get too high or too low. He said he'll keep that mindset going into his first playoff elimination game.

"I wouldn't say it's different,” Mrazek said. "You try and be focused for every game. You want to finish it as soon as possible. We know the game starts from 0-0 [Monday] and we're going to go and play hard."

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