Red Wings-Lightning Preview
GAME: Detroit Red Wings (21-9-3) at Tampa Bay Lightning (18-11-3).
TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
After two losses against struggling teams, the Detroit Red Wings look to put an end to their recent woes as they play the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Red Wings had a nine-game winning streak earlier in the season, but since their 12-1 start, they have struggled to maintain any consistency, going 9-8-3 the last 20 games. Some of those problems can be attributed to the absence of injured No. 1 goaltender Manny Legace.
Detroit is 3-3-1 in its last seven games, including consecutive losses to the Atlanta Thrashers and the Florida Panthers. After losing to the Thrashers for the first time in franchise history, the Red Wings suffered a 3-2 overtime loss Thursday against the Panthers, their first in Florida since 1996.
"I thought we took steps tonight and did a lot of good things," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "You want to win, but we did a lot of good things. We had a lot of good players tonight and so did they."
Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk has three goals and four assists in a four-game points streak.
Detroit has scored at least one power-play goal in six straight games, but also has allowed four man-advantage tallies in the last two.
The Lightning have won six of their last seven games, including a 3-1 win Thursday at Phoenix. Vincent Lecavalier netted a short-handed goal to extend his points streak to six games as Tampa bounced back from a 4-2 defeat Wednesday at Anaheim.
"It was a good response," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "That's what we were looking for. Losing games is one thing. We just didn't like the way we lost."
John Grahame, who had Thursday off, will try to extend his home winning streak to eight games. He is 7-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in his last eight home appearances. Grahame has not lost at home since a 5-2 defeat Nov. 10 to the New York Rangers.
The Lightning have won three of their last four home games against Detroit, including two by shutout.
STANDINGS: Red Wings - 45 points, 1st place, Central Division. Lightning - 39 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Brendan Shanahan, 18 goals; Pavel Datsyuk, 25 assists and 37 points; Chris Chelios, 62 PIM. Lightning - Fredrik Modin, 15 goals; Brad Richards, 24 assists; Vaclav Prospal, 36 points; Pavel Kubina, 52 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Red Wings - Power play: 26.5 percent (51 for 192), 1st in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (168 for 199), 5th. Lightning - Power play: 14.8 percent (29 for 196), 26th. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (135 for 160), 6th.
GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Chris Osgood (7-3-3, 0 SO, 3.08 GAA); Jimmy Howard (1-2-0, 0, 2.99). Lightning - Grahame (14-9-1, 1, 2.73); Sean Burke (4-1-2, 0, 2.51).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: 0-0-1.
LAST MEETING: March 8, 2004; Tied, 1-1. At Tampa, Modin scored with 7:21 to play in the third period as the Lightning clinched the Southeast Division title.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings - 10-4-2 on the road; Lightning - 10-5-1 at home.