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Notes: Wings without Filppula against the Lightning

Detroit looking to bust out of skid against Tampa Bay

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

TAMPA -- For a team looking to break out of a five-game losing skid, Tampa is not the best place to be.

That is true for any team but especially the Red Wings in recent years.

To say the Lightning have had the Wings' number would be an understatement.

The Wings have not beaten the Lightning in the regular season since Nov. 3, 2015 (2-1 win) and have not beaten the Lightning in Tampa since Feb. 17, 2011 (6-2 win).

Tampa Bay has beaten Detroit 15 straight games in the regular season, its longest winning streak against a single franchise and tied for fifth longest in NHL history.

The Lightning's 13-game home win streak over the Wings is their longest against a single franchise and is tied for 23rd longest in league history.

The Wings understand there's nothing that can be done about those 15 games or the 13 games in Tampa.

"I'm not worried about anything that's happened, whether it's this year or previous years," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "That is what it is. We need to play with the same competitiveness, the same work ethic, the same confidence with the puck that we did last night. We have to eliminate the easy chances against by poor fundamentals. Our fundamentals need to be better.

"Making sure we play through bodies, making sure we step on pucks, stop on pucks, stop on people. Making sure we're winning the race back to our net. But again, I think we did tons of really good things. I thought we played really hard. We just gotta make sure we're not giving away easy chances."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Coach Blashill following morning skate at Amalie Arena. #DETvsTBL #LGRW

In south Florida against the Panthers Saturday night, the Wings had a 3-1 lead after Frans Nielsen scored his first goal of the season on a shorthanded chance 46 seconds into the second period.

But the Panthers were also able to score on their power play and then got the tying and go-ahead goal nine seconds apart, at 6:39 and 6:48, giving them a lead they would never relinquish.

Detroit has been outscored in the second period, 59-28.

The good news is the Wings were able to score some goals, getting more than three for the first time since a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 12.

Unlike last season when the Lightning dominated the league, they currently sit fourth in the Atlantic with 42 points (19-13-4), one point behind the Panthers (19-13-5), and are third in the wild-card race behind the Carolina Hurricanes (23-14-2, 48 points) and Philadelphia Flyers (21-12-5, 47 points).

Lightning coach Jon Cooper normally likes to kid about Blashill, who is a longtime friend, but was serious when asked about him Sunday morning.

"There's a reason Blash has made it to the NHL, it's 'cause he's a hell of a coach," Cooper said. "I don't say that just out of friendship, it's because he is. I've watched his teams win everywhere he's gone, including knocking myself off in the USHL one year. He's good with the guys, good with the players. You always look to see, are the guys playing hard and they are. There's some things out of his control and I'm sure there's some things in his control because you win as a team and lose as a team but his teams always play hard and obviously that's a good sign."

INJURY UPDATES: Forward Valtteri Filppula did not play in the third period Saturday due to an upper-body injury.

"He's out tonight," Blashill said. "I don't know further than that but he's out tonight. I don't know how long it will be. I don't think it's a long-term thing but he's out tonight."

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who had to leave the Dec. 21 game in Toronto in the first period with a sore groin, may play against the Lightning.

"Jonathan Bernier is available to play today," Blashill said, without confirming whether Bernier would, in fact, play.

Jimmy Howard played Saturday against the Panthers and was one of the players who took part in the team's optional morning skate at Amalie Arena.

Tweet from @Dwakiji: #RedWings Howard working at other end of ice with goaltending coach Jeff Salajko.

The Wings have already lost 151 man-games to injury and illness, which will increase tonight in Tampa as Filppula is out.

"That's life. Injuries are part of sports," Blashill said. "We need guys to go in and step up and play great hockey. It puts (Brendan) Perlini back in the lineup. Hopefully he'll go in and have a great game."

Perlini was a healthy scratch against the Panthers and has been scratched in three of the past six games.

However, in five career games against the Lightning, Perlini has one goal and two assists.

"He brings speed and a real shot, without a doubt," Blashill said. "He's gotta make sure he's winning puck battles. If he wins puck battles, I think he can be a real good player, because when he has the puck on his stick he's really good. He's gotta make sure he does that, because he does have that good skill set."

NIELSEN GOAL: It has been a very unusual season for Nielsen, who finally scored his first goal of the season Saturday.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: A Fransy snipe. 🎯

"I think the whole bench exploded," Blashill said. "They were happy for him. He works hard. He cares a ton. It hasn't gone his way this year. I think he's played way better over the month, two months than he did early in the year. I think he's deserved of finally breaking the seal and scoring. Hopefully it leads to more here as he continues through it."

In his entire career, Nielsen has never scored fewer than 10 goals when playing 70 or more games in a season.

The hope is now that Nielsen has gotten that first one, the goals will come a little more easily the rest of the way.

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