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Five keys for Red Wings vs. Lightning, Game 4

Detroit looking to take up space; Tampa Bay needs to score on power play, stay out of penalty box

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning play Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena (7 p.m.; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2, FS-D, FS-F). The Lightning lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.

Here are five keys for Game 4:

1. Win the space race: For years, teams have complained about the Red Wings getting away with interference. After Detroit's line of Justin Abdelkader, Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan held the Lightning line of Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov without a shot in Game 3, Killorn said the Red Wings "did a good job of interfering or getting in the way so we couldn't get the puck." What the Red Wings try to do is get in skating lanes before you do.

"It's free ice," Glendening said. "Anyone can skate there. You can't stop skating, that's for sure. But if you're moving your feet, both people have just as much right to be there. You just try to get back as fast as you can to your own zone and slow them down as much as you can."

2. Play in the offensive zone: Tampa Bay's forecheck forced Detroit to turn over the puck often in the first two games. The Red Wings avoided problems in their own end in Game 3 by spending less time there. They dominated possession.

"We just spent too much time in our end," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Chip it out, have to change. Spend too much time in our end, chip it out, have to change. And then when we did get offensive opportunities, we were one-and-dones. It just crushes your flow."

Video: TBL@DET, Gm3: Zetterberg's deflection doubles lead

3. Stay out of the box: The Lightning have spent 27:19 on the penalty kill in this series, by far the most of any team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and more than seven minutes more than the Red Wings have (20:05). That crushes your flow, too, even if the other team doesn't score on the power play.

"Ultimately," Cooper said, "when you're spending the whole night in the penalty box, that really disrupts what's going on."

4. Cash in: Both teams have struggled on the power play. The Lightning are 1-for-14, the Red Wings 1-for-17. At what point will special teams decide a game? The Lightning spent much of practice Monday working on their power play. The Red Wings have shuffled their power-play units, but haven't altered their structure.

"If you get frustrated and start looking for a magic pill, you're in trouble," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "Really, lots of times you have to reset and say, 'OK, I'm going to go back to our principles, finding ways to deliver the pucks to the net, finding ways to outnumber them at the net.'"

5: Start producing: Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg got credit for a goal in Game 3 when a puck went in off his skate, but he, Pavel Datsyuk, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar aren't producing enough offense. For the Lightning, the issue is secondary scoring. Brian Boyle is the only one not on the top line who has a goal in this series.

"You can't just sit here and depend on three guys to score every night," Cooper said.

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