Lightning host Red Wings in key Atlantic clash
Detroit forward Sheahan out with illness; Mrazek faces Bishopby Corey Long @CoreyLong / NHL.com Correspondent
TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will return from the All-Star break with a crucial Atlantic Division game against the Detroit Red Wings at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).
Tampa Bay (27-18-4) and Detroit (25-16-8) each have 58 points and are tied for second in the Atlantic behind the Florida Panthers.
It's the first trip to Amalie Arena for the Red Wings since the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Lightning took a 2-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round.
Detroit will be without center Riley Sheahan on Wednesday because of an illness. Sheahan has skated the past two days but Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said he wouldn't be able play at 100 percent.
"My rule of thumb is we want guys, even when they don't feel 100 percent, to play at 100 percent," Blashill said. "Riley's not quite there yet."
Blashill said he's hopeful Sheahan will return Thursday against the Florida Panthers.
The Red Wings moved Luke Glendening to Sheahan's spot on the third line with Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist. Blashill said Glendening brings a lot of similar intangibles.
"We think [Glendening] brings a lot of the same qualities that [Sheahan] does in the sense of hardness (and) net presence," Blashill said. "He's first on the puck with the forecheck, that big body that really complements the other two players well."
Tampa Bay wants to continue the run it started before the All-Star break. The Lightning were 9-2-0 in January and have won eight of their past nine games.
Forward Ryan Callahan said he hopes the Lightning took the necessary rest during the break to prepare for a playoff push over the next two months.
"You want to jump back into in after getting a couple of days off," Callahan said. "We've got an important stretch of games coming up and it starts with Detroit. This is when the games start to get a lot tighter as the teams battle for a playoff spot. We've got to be ready for it and I think we will."
Lightning forward Alex Killorn said the winner Wednesday will have good momentum going down the stretch.
"It's going to be a pretty intense game," Killorn said. "[We're] so close in the standings and we played them in the playoffs last year. It's going to be close. The first two games at their building were tough, so we have to focus on being tough in our building."
The Red Wings will have Petr Mrazek (18-9-4) in goal; the Lightning will start Ben Bishop (19-14-3).
Here are the projected lineups:
Justin Abdelkader - Henrik Zetterberg - Dylan Larkin
Darren Helm - Pavel Datsyuk - Brad Richards
Gustav Nyquist - Luke Glendening - Tomas Tatar
Tomas Jurco - Joakim Andersson- Teemu Pulkkinen
Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser
Brendan Smith - Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson - Alexey Marchenko
Injured: Niklas Kronwall (knee surgery), Johan Franzen (concussion), Drew Miller (knee surgery), Riley Sheahan (illness)
Ondrej Palat - Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos
Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov
J.T. Brown - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan
Cedric Paquette - Brian Boyle - Erik Condra
Anton Stralman - Victor Hedman
Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr
Braydon Coburn - Nikita Nesterov
Injured: Joel Vermin (hand)
Scratched: Jonathan Marchessault, Matthew Carle
Status report: The Lightning had an optional morning skate Wednesday after holding a full practice Tuesday. … Kronwall still isn't skating and may not return for another week or two.
Who's hot: Stamkos scored his 21st goal of the season last Wednesday and has 297 for his NHL career. … Mrazek had 27 saves in the Red Wings' 4-2 win against the New York Islanders on Jan. 25.