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POSTED ON Thursday, 04.21.2016 / 9:46 PM ET
By Bill Roose - / The Wheel Deal

Jonathan Ericsson
Defense  - DET
Goals: 0 | Assists: 1 | Pts: 1
Shots: 1 | +/-: 1
TAMPA, Fla. – During this series, Jonathan Ericsson joined the top-nine list of Red Wings’ defensemen who have played the most playoff games in their career.

While it hasn’t necessarily been a stellar postseason for the 32-year-old Swede, he knows he must do better tonight if the Red Wings are to extend the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I need to be more active. I think I need to move more,” Ericsson admitted Thursday morning. “When I move with the puck more I make better plays and sometimes when you look for plays and you’re standing still it just kind of bad habits.”

On Sunday, Ericsson passed Brad Stuart (72) for ninth place in playoff games played among Red Wings’ defensemen. The top eight are: Nicklas Lidstrom (263), Marcel Pronovost (118), Niklas Kronwall (108), Chris Chelios (103), Red Kelly (94), Vladimir Konstantinov (82), Jack Stewart (80) and Viacheslav Fetisov (78).

Ericsson caught some unjust heat for a cross-checking penalty that occurred late in Game 4, setting up the Lightning’s game-winning goal on the power play with less than three minutes to go in the third period.

“I think sometimes he gets blamed for things that aren’t necessarily his fault,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “That was a breakdown that actually another player lost his coverage and he had to make up for. So I think sometimes when you’re just sitting in the stands you might not understand which guys are whose and so he gets blamed for some of that.

“Johnnie Ericsson when he is playing his best he’s using his big, huge frame and his skating ability to close gaps to not give too much space. He does a real good job when he’s playing his best at managing the puck. … He’s a big, hard, physical presence that keeps guys away from our net. So that’s what we need out of him.”

Keeping the Lightning’s shooters to the outside will play a role tonight. If Ericsson and the other defensemen can give goalie Petr Mrazek lanes for him to see shots it will help cut down on the Lightning offense.

“We all have to do a better job in boxing out,” Ericsson said. “That’s another thing we don’t want anyone to come into our crease or between the circles. We got to keep them to the outside. We got to own the middle everywhere on the ice.”

Ericsson and Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman were mic’ed up for Game 4. Watch video below

The power play has been rough but the Wings get a glorious opportunity when the Lightning picked up a bench minor for too many men on the ice, followed by Jason Garrison’s cross-checking penalty against Justin Abdelkader 46 seconds later.

Detroit managed to keep possession in the attacking zone the lion’s share of the 5-on-3 advantage that last 1:14. The best chance came when Pavel Datsyuk whistled a shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle. But the puck hit the near post and exited the crease to the right of goalie Ben Bishop.

It was Detroit’s second two-man advantage of the series. The Wings failed to capitalize on a 59-second 5 on 3 during the first period of Game 3.

The Wings had another scoring chance in the second half of the period. With 7:11 left on the clock, defenseman Danny DeKeyser cruised down the left wing before unleashing a quick wrist shot high that Bishop stopped with his blocker.

It’s just the second time in the series that the teams have gone into the first intermission scoreless. Game 3 Sunday in Detroit was scoreless until the Red Wings scored twice in the second period.

Kronwall picked up a hooking penalty in the final minute of the period. It was Detroit’s second minor infraction.

The Lightning will start the second period with 1:22 left on the power play.


PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Drouin (too many men on the ice), 3:41; 2. TBL, Garrison (cross-checking), 4:27; 3. DET, Nyquist (slashing), 9:06; 4. DET, Kronwall (hooking), 19:21.

SHOTS: Detroit 9, Tampa Bay 8.

The Wings killed off the remaining 1:22 of Kronwall’s penalty. But the penalty kill was pressed back into service fairly quickly when Dylan Larkin went to the box for hooking at 2:53.

The PK did its job and actually managed to get offensive in the meantime as Riley Sheahan and Darren Helm each had shorthanded scoring chances.

A nice defensive play by Sheahan resulted in a shorthanded breakaway. The Wings’ forward blocked a pass attempt along the blue line by Hedman, and was off to the races, streaking through the neutral zone with plenty of time to decide how he was going to beat Bishop. It looked like Sheahan tried to go five-hole but the 6-foot-7 goalie quickly reacted to make the save with his pads.

The Wings had a second breakaway in the period. But Bishop came up huge again, this time stopping Helm who took a stretch pass from DeKeyser and headed into the clear before making a move to his left in an attempt to fool Bishop. The goalie didn’t bite and made the save to preserve a scoreless game.

The Lightning’s top assist man in this series, Tyler Johnson (five assists) went missing after the three-minute mark of the period. He left the ice and wasn’t slotted on the bench for the remainder of the frame.

Larkin had a good scoring chance in the waning minutes. But again, Bishop came up big save on Detroit's third breakaway, steering the puck into the corner with his right blocker.



PENALTIES: 1. DET, Larkin (tripping), 2:53; 2. DET, Quincey (hooking), 9:47; 3. TBL, Hedman (holding), 14:01.

SHOTS: Detroit 14 (23), Tampa Bay 6 (14).

The Lightning’s Johnson returned for the start of the third period.

With 19:19 remaining, Bishop appeared to be hurt – albeit momentarily – by Sheahan’s rising slap shot that hit the goalie in the left shoulder.

Zetterberg had a chance but Ryan Callahan beat the Red Wings’ captain to a loose puck to the right of Bishop to knock it toward the half wall.

With less than 11 minutes to go, the Red Wings used their timeout following an icing.

The Lightning struggled with poor puck management and giveaways throughout the period but the Wings couldn’t capitalize on the home team’s miscues.

Johnson left the game for a second time, returning to the Lightning dressing room midway through the period. He was back with less than three minutes left in regulation.

Glendening had a scoring chance on another Lightning turnover. Bishop made the save sending the Lightning back up ice where they scored a fluky goal.

Petr Mrazek tried to play the puck to Ericsson behind the net but didn’t nudge it hard enough to avoid a charging Callahan, who threw the puck out front to Alex Killorn who potted the puck into the open net before the Wings’ goalie could get back to the crease.

It’s the third time in Datsyuk’s career that he was held without a point in a playoff series. The other two times occurred at the start of his career – in the 2002 Stanley Cup finals against Carolina and the next season when Detroit was swept by Anaheim in the 2003 Western Conference quarterfinals.


SCORING: 1. TBL, Killorn (Callahan), 18:17.

PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Killorn (cross-checking), 19:16.

SHOTS: Detroit 11 (34), Tampa Bay 10 (24).

POSTED ON Friday, 04.15.2016 / 9:59 PM ET
By Bill Roose - / The Wheel Deal

TAMPA, Fla. – Pressure.

It’s a part of every player’s life when the puck drops in a Stanley Cup playoff game.

Every game, every period, every shift matters for the teams fortunate to fight for the trophy that only one can hoist at the end of a long, combative postseason.

“It’s the nature of the playoffs series and probably the nature within games,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.

The stresses facing the Red Wings tonight is they don’t want to return home in a 0-2 series deficit to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Dropping the first two games of any series is uncustomary for the Red Wings. During their remarkable playoff streak of 25-straight seasons, Detroit has a 2-7 series record when trailing 0-2 in a best-of-seven matchup. Of course, the last time they won such a series Nicklas Lidstrom scored a goal from center ice in Vancouver that turned that first-round series around and propelled the Wings to the 2002 Stanley Cup.

On four separate occasions this season the Wings have endured losing streaks of three-straight games in regulation. They’d like to avoid their first four-game drought with a win tonight in Game 2.

“One thing that our team has done a real good job at throughout their careers, and certainly this team in general, is we’ve stayed steady on the rudder,” Blashill said. “We’ve been pretty even keeled. We haven’t had long, long losing stretches. We’ve reacted well down the stretch to tough losses. We had a tough loss against Pittsburgh. We came back and played real well. We had a tough loss in Montreal and came back and won the next game. So I think we’ve stayed even keeled and I think we have a group of veterans that know how to do that.”

It might only be the second game between the Red Wings and Lightning but already there’s an intensity and animosity percolating in this series. Blashill would like to see his club play with a certain psychology tonight.

“Gotta make sure that we have what I talked about the other day about the next-shift mentality,” he said. “Whether you have success on the prior shift or you have a tough shift you gotta make sure you put it behind you and you go out and have a great next shift. You can’t do anything about what’s been done in the past. You can move forward, so I would say it’s something that’s extremely important, being able to handle momentum, especially on the road in other teams’ buildings. This building was loud and it will be real important tonight that we have a great next-shift mentality, especially when you get scored on.”

Mike Green and Justin Abdelkader scored for the Wings in Game 1. Green became just the fifth different Wings' defenseman to score a playoff goal since 2012. Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Brendan Smith (2) and Jakub Kindl have accounted for the other five goals since Lidstrom retired.

Much like Game 1, the Red Wings had a solid start to Game 2, but it was the Lightning that took a lead on the scoreboard into the first intermission.

The Red Wings got an early gift when Alex Killorn was given a two-minute minor for holding Jonathan Ericsson deep in Detroit’s defensive zone. But Detroit’s power play managed just one shot on goal – a six-footer by Henrik Zetterberg – that was easily stopped by Ben Bishop, who saw it all the way.

To no surprise, the intensity and pace escalated as the period wore on.

Midway through the period, Detroit held a 7-4 edge in shots but it was the Lightning who had a 4-0 advantage in scoring chances. Three of the four Lightning chances were unbelievable close to giving the home team an early lead but Jimmy Howard came up big, particularly on a rebounding opportunity by forward Mike Blunden at 6:37.

From that point on the Lightning attacked the Detroit zone in waves. Moments after Blunden’s chance, the Tyler Johnson line ratcheted up the pace when Nikita Kucherov had a chance but the Russian forward ended up in the net behind Howard instead of the puck.

Luke Glendening had perhaps the Wings’ biggest chance, but he fanned on a shot from in front of the blue paint with under 11 minutes to go in the period.

Howard was outstanding, keeping the Wings in the first period. The Lightning only got to the veteran goalie on a 5-on-3 power play when Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader went to the penalty box 27-seconds apart.

Kucherov’s third goal of the series gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 15:17. His goal came from almost exactly the same spot on the ice as his first goal in Game 1. The first-period goal was the first power-play goal of the series.


SCORING: 1. TBL, Kucherov PPG (Hedman, Johnson), 15:17.

PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Killorn (holding), 2:00; 2. DET, Quincey (roughing), 11:11; 3. DET, Nyquist (slashing), 14:20; 4. DET, Abdelkader (tripping), 14:47.

SHOTS: Detroit 15, Tampa Bay 12.

The Lightning picked up where they left off causing pressure in the Red Wings’ end. That led to a Dylan Larkin hooking penalty.

Tampa Bay got little in terms of momentum on the ensuing man advantage.

Once his penalty expired, Larkin jumped out of the penalty box to join a rush that led to the rookie scoring his first postseason goal on his first-ever shot on goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Larkin raced through the attacking zone and fired a low shot that beat Bishop five-hole at 3:30.

But just over three minutes later, the Lightning regained a one-goal lead when center Brian Boyle took a drop pass from Jonathan Drouin in the slot, and using Mike Green as a screen, whistled a shot behind Howard.

Pavel Datsyuk didn’t finish the second period. It appeared the Red Wings’ center was hit in the face and may have lost a tooth during a skirmish in the corner to the left of the Lightning’s net. Datsyuk retaliated against Victor Hedman and picked up a roughing minor to boot. Tomas Tatar served Datsyuk’s penalty.

Tempers flared moments later when Danny DeKeyser hit Ondrej Palat behind the Wings’ net. Pushing and shoving ensued, resulting in Riley Sheahan and Drouin earning roughing penalties.

Palat went to the Lightning dressing room and did not return for the rest of the period.


SCORING: 1. DET, Larkin (Ericsson, Kronwall), 3:30; 2. Boyle (Drouin, Coburn), 6:46.

PENALTIES: 1. DET, Larkin (hooking), 1:12; 2. DET, Datsyuk (roughing), 10:21; 3. DET, Sheahan (roughing), 11:50; 4. TBL, Hedman (unsportsman-like), 11:50; 5. TBL, Drouin (roughing), 11:50; 6. TBL, Hedman (hooking), 14:03; 7. TBL, Boyle (interference), 17:35.

Detroit 8 (23), Tampa Bay 9 (21).

Good puck movement by the Wings on the first power play of the third period, their sixth of the game. Nyquist had a golden chance from the right side of the net, but Bishop made an outstanding save, kicking out a rebound to Ryan Callahan, who cleared the puck out of the zone.

The Wings finally scored on the power play when Brad Richards used a Sheahan screen in front of Bishop to tie the game at 2-2. It was Detroit’s first power-play goal in the playoffs since Tomas Tatar scored in the second period of Game 6 against the Lighting last spring.

It took just four minutes for Tampa Bay to retake the lead when Johnson banged in a loose puck with Howard out of position near the far post.

Green had a good chance to get the Red Wings even late in the period. The Wings’ defenseman coasted into the slot, where he pulled the puck back away from a Lightning defender and flicked a high shot on Bishop who made a save with his right shoulder with 7:05 left.

The Johnson line struck again when Kucherov zipped around the Wings net and made a centering pass out front of Johnson (four points tonight) who fired a one-timer behind Howard. The goal was Johnson’s second of the night, second of the series, and the eighth postseason tally against Detroit since last April.

Killorn capped the scoring, banking in an empty-net goal with 2:44 left.

With less than a minute remaining, Richards hit Andrej Sustr in front of the Tampa Bay net. Nesterov came to his teammate’s defense before others got involved and punches were thrown and fighting majors were assessed to Abdelkader, Richards, Blunden and Nesterov.

The Red Wings return home down 0-2 in the series. It’s the first time Detroit has lost the first two games of a series since the 2011Western Conference semifinals against San Jose.
The Eastern Conference first-round series now heads to Detroit, where the Red Wings will host the Lightning in Game 3 Sunday at 7 p.m. EDT.


SCORING: 1. DET, Richards PPG (Green, Tatar), 4:27; 2. TBL, Johnson (Killorn), 6:32; 3. TBL, Johnson (Kucherov, Garrison), 14:48; 4. TBL, Killorn ENG (Carle, Johnson), 17:16.

PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Nesterov (high-sticking), 2:53; 2. DET, Tatar (holding the stick), 6:57; 3. DET, Abdelkader (fighting, game misconduct), 19:06; 4. DET, Richards (slashing, fighting), 19:06; 5. TBL, Nesterov (high-sticking, fighting), 19:06; 6. TBL, Blunden (roughing), 19:06; 7. DET, Marchenko (10-min misconduct), 19:06; 8. DET, Larkin (slashing, 10-min misconduct), 19:06; 9. DET, Green (10-min misconduct), 19:06; 10. TBL, Callahan (roughing, 10-min misconduct), 19:06; 11. TBL, Paquette (10-min misconduct), 19:06; 12. TBL, Sustr (10-min misconduct), 19:06.

SHOTS: Detroit 9 (32), Tampa Bay 10 (31).

POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.13.2016 / 9:58 PM ET
By Bill Roose - / The Wheel Deal

TAMPA, Fla. – If the Red Wings are to advance beyond their first-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning they need to do so as road warriors.

It’s become a common theme for the Wings. Detroit has started each of the past six playoff series away from the friendly confines of Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings face the defending Eastern Conference champion Lightning in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight season. Game 1 of their first-round series is tonight at Amalie Arena.

This is the seventh straight series that the Red Wings will begin on the road.

While the Wings have lost five of those six series, the bright side is they have returned home following Game 2 series splits with Nashville (2012), Anaheim, Chicago (2013), Boston (2014) and Tampa Bay (2015).

The Wings headed home last season with the series with the Lightning tied 1-1 after stealing Game 1 with a 3-2 victory at Amalie Arena.

Now they’ll have to steal another Game 1 from the Lightning.

“It's great that we're in, it's great that we were able to extend it to 25 years but now it's time to get to work, have some fun out there and go steal a game,” goalie Jimmy Howard said earlier in the week.

On the flip side, the three times the Lightning has had home-ice advantage in the playoffs since 2014 they’ve gone on the road with a split or worse.

Last spring, in their only other playoff meeting, the Lighting defeated Detroit a seven-game series, when goalie Ben Bishop posted a 31-save performance in a 2-0 Game 7 victory.

This season, the 6-foot-7 Bishop led the NHL with a 2.06 goals-against average and ranked second with a .926 save percentage. In last spring's playoff matchup he stopped 153 of 166 shots he faced to finish with a 1.87 GAA and a .922 save percentage against the Red Wings.

Home ice meant everything during the Wings-Lightning four-game regular-season series with each team winning twice at home.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, teams that win Game 1 in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoffs series hold an all-time series record of 437-200 – that’s a 68.6 winning percentage.

Wednesday morning coach Jeff Blashill called the regular season a dress rehearsal for the playoffs.

It was a fitting analogy for the Red Wings’ first-period struggles when faced with some adversity.

Detroit had a good start to Game 1. It began the game with a 6-0 edge in shots on goal. Unfortunately, all of its shots came from the outside where Bishop could easily track the puck.

It took some time for the Lightning to strike but when they did the Wings seemed to fall back on their heels for much of the second half of the period.

Tyler Johnson, who was a game-time decision with an upper-body injury sustained in the season-finale at Montreal last Saturday, set up the first goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Spokane, Wash., native blew through the neutral zone, and while cutting to the middle crossed the blue line and found linemate Nikita Kucherov for a one-timer from the left face-off circle. Howard wasn’t quick enough with his left glove hand to snag Kucherov’s rocket that sailed out of the net as fast as it entered it.

Puck possession was a problem for the Wings. The Lightning dominated the face-off circle early on, winning 11 straight draws. The Wings won just six of 20 first-period faceoffs.


SCORING: 1. TBL, Kucherov (Johnson, Killorn), 6:23).

PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Sustr (tripping), 10:47; 2. DET, Kronwall (slashing), 11:12; 3. DET, DeKeyser (high-stick), 19:50; 4. TBL, Boyle (charging), 20:00.

SHOTS: Detroit 13, Tampa Bay 8.

The shots looked harmless enough but the slappers by Mike Green and Kyle Quincey – basically from the same spot on the ice near the half wall above the right face-off circle – found the back of the Lightning net to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead early in the second period.

Bishop was screened on both goals and hit something in front. Quincey’s shot was redirected by Abdelkader who was credited with his sixth career playoff goal.
Both goalies came up with splendid saves midway through the period. First, Bishop kept the Lightning within one goal when he made an outstanding left pad save on Brad Richards. On the same shift, Howard stoned Alex Killorn.

But moments later the Lightning tied things up when Kucherov scored his second goal of the game. The Russian forward pushed a rebound between Howard’s legs.

Things heated up late in the period when Braydon Coburn went after Dylan Larkin. The Lightning’s 6-foot-5 defenseman outweighs the Wings’ rookie by 36 pounds. Danny DeKeyser came to Larkin’s defense and engaged Coburn behind the Red Wings’ net. In all, 121 minutes in penalties were handed out, including roughing minors to DeKeyser, Larkin and Darren Helm. For his role in the skirmish, Coburn was assessed a double-minor for roughing.


SCORING: 1. DET, Green (DeKeyser, Tatar), 2:11; 2. Abdelkader (Quincey), 4:07; 3. TBL, Kucherov (Coburn, Nesterov), 9:29.

PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Drouin (roughing) 6:34; 2. TBL, Killorn (interference), 11:42;
3. TBL, Coburn (double roughing), 11:42; 4. DET, Helm (roughing), 11:42; 5. DET, DeKeyser (roughing), 11:42; 6. DET, Larkin (roughing), 11:42; 7. TBL, Garrison (hooking), 13:49; 8. DET, Abdelkader (slashing), 15:32.

SHOTS: Detroit 13 (26), Tampa Bay 12 (20).

Pressure by the Red Wings in the offensive zone led to their fifth power play of the game.

While Bishop was making huge stops on Pavel Datsyuk and Andreas Athanasiou, the Lightning countered with a minor infraction when Jonathan Drouin cross-checked Athanasiou in the back, sending the Wings’ rookie face first to the ice. It was Drouin’s second minor penalty of the night.

However, the Wings never got anything going on their man advantage.

The Lightning thought they regained the lead on a goal by Victor Hedman at 6:55. But Drouin was clearly offsides and the Situation Room in Toronto overturned the scoring play on video replay.

Here is an explanation emailed by the league:

At 6:55 of the third period in the Red Wings/Lightning game, Detroit requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Tampa Bay was off-side prior to Victor Hedman’s goal.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Tampa Bay Lightning.

The clock is re-set to show 13:08 (6:52 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.

Since the Coach’s Challenge resulted in the original call being overturned, the Detroit Red Wings retain their time-out.

The Wings were unable to gain momentum from Tampa Bay’s disallowed goal. Instead, it was the Lightning, who turned up the pressure and got the goal back two minutes later when a turnover deep in the Wings’ zone led to Alex Killorn’s goal.

With 1:40 left the Wings lifted Howard for a sixth attacker, and 33 seconds later they used their timeout with a faceoff set to Bishop’s left. After Richards held the puck into the zone and Glendening and Green had great chances but missed.

The loss is the Wings’ 21st one-goal defeat of the season. They had a 27-9-11 record in such outcomes during the regular season.

The Wings-Lightning series will resume Friday at Amalie Arena with Game 2 at 7 p.m.

SCORING: 1. TBL, Killorn (Johnson, Kucherov), 8:52;

PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Drouin (cross-checking), 2:50; 2. DET, Abdelkader (interference), 11:42; 3. DET, Abdelkader (roughing), 19:49; 4. TBL, Palat (roughing), 19:49; 5. DET, Zetterberg (charging), 20:00..

SHOTS: Detroit 10 (36), Tampa Bay 14 (34).

POSTED ON Saturday, 04.9.2016 / 3:18 PM ET
By Bill Roose - / The Wheel Deal

NEW YORK CITY – No scoreboard watching necessary.

It’s all up to the Red Wings, who control their fate today in a regular-season finale against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

A win in regulation or overtime and the Wings clinch a 25th straight berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs and finish in third place in the Atlantic Division, which will set up a first-round rematch with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

However, if the Wings don’t take care of business, they’ll need help in securing a playoff spot.

Here are three other ways for Detroit to clinch:

If the Wings win in a shootout they need Boston to lose in regulation or overtime, or for Philadelphia to go 1-0-1 or worse.

If the Wings lose in overtime or a shootout they need Boston to get one point or less, or for Philadelphia to go 1-1-0 or worse.

If the Wings lose in regulation they need Boston to lose in regulation, or for Philadelphia to go 0-1-1 or worse.

“The goal that we set at the beginning of the year was to try to win a Stanley Cup,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said, Saturday morning. “In order to do that you have to gain entrance into the Stanley Cup playoffs. That’s our focus here today, is to win a hockey game so we can gain entrance in the Stanley Cup playoffs, so we can have the opportunity to win a Cup. Certainly I’ve got great, unbelievable respect for this streak and what it’s meant, and the job that the managers, the players, the coaches that have been a part of that. But our main focus is to win a Stanley Cup this year.”

Jimmy Howard will get his fifth straight start. Blashill said Saturday morning that he expects forward Justin Abdelkader (lower body) to play. He was injured midway through the third period of Thursday’s 5-2 loss at Boston.

On Friday the Wings recalled Joakim Andersson from AHL Grand Rapids. Initially, it was thought to fill a lineup spot should Abdelkader not be able to go. However, Andersson will draw into the lineup and play right wing on the fourth line, replacing Tomas Jurco, who is a healthy scratch.

Backup goalie Antti Raanta will start for the Rangers. He has won each of his past three starts while posting a 1.67 goals-against average and .941 save percentage. Raanta relieved Henrik Lundqvist in the third period of Thursday’s loss to the New York Islanders, stopping all six shots he faced.

The Rangers will also be without forwards Mats Zuccarello and Viktor Stalberg, and defensemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. All are listed as injured.

“Well, we know they’ve got lots of really good players in the lineup and they’re a really good team,” Blashill said. “Look at (Raanta’s) numbers, his numbers are really good. I think they almost mirror (Lundqvist’s). His goals-against average is below Lundqvist and the save percentage is just on the other side of it. So we know it’s a great challenge today, regardless of who’s in there for them.”

It appeared that the Red Wings had grabbed an early lead when Andersson scored off a rebound on his first shift of the game at 2:42. But the Rangers, believing Andersson was off-sides on the rush, challenged the goal’s validity, which was eventually overturned by the Situation Room in Toronto.

Here is the explanation from Toronto:

At 2:42 of the first period in the Red Wings/Rangers game, New York requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Detroit's Joakim Andersson was off-side prior to his goal.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Andersson was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Detroit Red Wings.

The clock is re-set to show 17:22 (2:38 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.

Since the Coach’s Challenge resulted in the original call being overturned, the New York Rangers retain their time-out.

Darren Helm had a good chance on a play made possible by Brad Richards on a rush into the attacking zone. With 5:25 left he made a centering pass to Helm on the left wing, where the speedy forward fired a shot into Raanta’s chest.

The Red Wings had the game’s first power play, though it was brief. Twenty seconds after Marc Staal went to the penalty box for his high stick on Helm, Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg was called for holding Jasper Fast.

On the ensuing four on four, the Rangers’ Dan Boyle scored on a 2-on-1 rush when he unleashed a shot that beat Howard low to the blocker side at 16:24.

David Pastrnak’s first period goal was reviewed for off-sides but confirmed by video replay, and the Bruins have a 1-0 lead after the first period at home over the Ottawa Senators. Backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson stopped all 17 shots in faced in the first period.


SCORING: 1. NYR, Boyle (Kreider), 16:24.

1. NYR, M. Staal (high-sticking), 15:06; 2. DET, Zetterberg (holding), 15:26.

SHOTS: Detroit 8, NY Rangers 7.

The Red Wings came out with far more energy than they seemed to have in the opening period. Detroit had several early scoring chances. Abdelkader, Tomas Tatar and Pavel Datsyuk all had good opportunities but Raanta stopped everything sent his way … at least early on.

Detroit took advantage of its first full power play chance to tie the score at 1-1. Riley Sheahan collected his fifth goal in nine games when Datsyuk’s shot from the left point caromed off the Wings’ big forward and popped over Raanta’s shoulder and into the net.

Rick Nash had a scoring chance when he used his speed to split the Wings’ defense. The Rangers’ center made a move to get around Howard’s right side, but the Wings’ goalie came up with a huge right pad save.

SCOREBOARD WATCHING: The Senators scored four unanswered goals in the second period to go up 4-1 on the Bruins. Goals Chris Neil, Zack Smith, Matt Puempel and Mika Zibanejad paced Ottawa’s offense burst.


SCORING: 1, DET, Sheahan PPG (Datsyuk, Green), 6:42.

PENALTIES: 1, NYR, Nash (tripping), 4:54; 2. DET, Quincey (roughing), 7:25.

Detroit 16 (24), NY Rangers 7 (14).

The Wings had several chances to take the lead early in the third. Luke Glendening, Zetterberg and Sheahan all had scoring chances from in close on redirects or rebounds.

But Raanta continued his marvelous performance Saturday afternoon, playing square to the shooters and shutting down the Wings’ chances. For more than half the period Detroit had a 7-1 edge in shots on goal.

But the Rangers turned up the pressure and regained the lead when Kevin Hayes tipped Dylan McIlrath’s wrister from the right point at 14:22.

The Wings elected to pull Howard for an extra attacked with just under three minutes to play. The strategy backfired when Oscar Lindberg, who assisted on the goal by Hayes, potted an empty-net goal to put the Rangers up 3-1 with 2:36 left in regulation.

Abdelkader added a goal for Detroit as it went back to 6 on 4, but the Wings couldn’t get to Raanta again, despite two minor penalties assessed to the Rangers in the final minute and a half.

Detroit didn’t do what it set out to do, which was get into the playoffs on its own.
The Wings will start the playoffs the way they did last spring – in the Sunshine State against their Atlantic Division rivals from Tampa Bay. The Lightning won last year’s first-round series in seven games.

SCOREBOARD WATCHING: Jean-Gabriel Pageau added an unassisted goal in the third for the Senators and Zack Smith scored his second of the game to help lift the Wings in to the postseason.


SCORING: 1. NYR, Hayes (McIlrath, Lindberg), 14:22; 2. NYR, Lindberg EN (Fast), 17:24; 3. DET, Abdelkader (Richards, Zetterberg), 18:26.

PENALTIES: 1. NYR, Boyle (cross-checking), 18:47; 2. NYR, M. Staal (tripping), 19:40.

SHOTS: Detroit 9 (33), NY Rangers 6 (20).

POSTED ON Thursday, 04.7.2016 / 9:41 PM ET
By Bill Roose - / The Wheel Deal

BOSTON – A win tonight over the Bruins will give the Red Wings their 25th consecutive postseason appearance, marking the longest playoff streak in the four major North American sports leagues.

For Jeff Blashill, the message to his players before this win-and-clinch game at TD Garden is the same thing the Red Wings’ coach has preached all season.

“Let’s come out and execute and focus on the process,” Blashill said two hours before puck drop. “Got to have great process for 60 minutes to give ourselves the best chance to win.”

Jimmy Howard gets the start. He’s 5-2-1 lifetime against the Bruins with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.

The Wings are coming off a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. The team checked into its hotel in downtown Boston at 3 a.m. But that shouldn't be an excuse, Blashill said.

“That has nothing to do with it. Let’s go play to win,” he said. “We’re going to put our guys out there the way we have all season long. The one thing that can be a strength of ours is the depth of our team so we got to make sure that all guys are going and everybody has an impact on the game.”

The Wings’ defensive process has definitely shown improvement, and Blashill would like to see that continue against the Bruins.

“I’d say the last three games we’ve played much better defensively,” he said. “We’ve done a good job of limiting opportunities against for the most part. When they have had opportunities our goaltender has been real good.”

The Red Wings enter Thursday's game with the most one-goal games this season. Detroit is 27-8-11. Since defeating Montreal, 4-3, at home on March 24, the Wings are 4-1-0 in the last five one-goal games.

Blashill said that experience, along with playing aside veterans is a tremendous teaching tool for young players, like Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Alexey Marchenko, who are new to the playoff push and the intensity of the postseason.

“They get a chance to learn from some of the best between Zetterberg, Kronwall, Datsyuk, Richards, guys who have been through lots of experiences,” Blashill said. “They get an opportunity to see how important it is to value the puck well, how important it is to take what’s given I’d probably say is the biggest thing. Let’s make plays when they’re plays available. Let’s not force plays if they’re not there.”

Definitely not the start the Red Wings wanted Thursday night.

Goals by David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead in the opening three minutes before many of the home fans had time to settle into their seats at TD Garden.

The Wings challenged Boston’s first goal set up by John-Michael Liles’ stretch pass that appeared, at first, to cross the blue line after Pastrnak, who raced around Wings defenseman Mike Green. Pastrnak’s unimpeded trip to the front of the net ended with the Bruins’ forward slipping a backhand shot underneath Howard.

The Red Wings challenged the play, but after conferring with the Situation Room in Toronto, the goal, at 1:25, was allowed to stand.

The Situation Room released the following explanation of the first goal:

At 1:25 of the first period in the Red Wings/Bruins game, Detroit requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Boston’s David Pastrnak was off-side prior to his goal.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that the Bruins entered the attacking zone legally prior to the goal.

Therefore the original call stands – good goal Boston Bruins.

Since the Coach’s Challenge did not result in the original call being overturned, the Detroit Red Wings forfeit their time-out.

Boston built a two-goal lead just 1:29 later when Brad Marchand scored his team-leading 37th goal on a one-timer from the right face-off circle.

Each team had two power-play chances in the period. The Wings managed to get one shot through to Boston goalie Tuukka Rask on the man-advantage.


SCORING: 1. BOS, Pastrnak (Liles, C. Miller), 1:25; 2. BOS, Marchand (Krug, Bergeron), 2:54.

PENALTIES: 1. BOS, McQuaid (interference), 5:20; 2. DET, DeKeyser (holding), 11:39; 3. BOS, McQuaid (delay of game), 14:06; 4. DET, Sheahan (hooking), 17:37.

SHOTS: Detroit 8, Boston 11.

The Wings had a chance to turn the tides early in the period when Matt Beleskey was called for cross-checking. But Detroit’s power play failed to convert on the two-minute advantage. In fact, they only got one shot on goal, that by defenseman Niklas Kronwall late in the chance.

The Bruins increased their lead while Jonathan Ericsson served a minor penalty for dragging down former teammate Landon Ferraro deep in the Wings’ zone. Michigan native Torey Krug made his hometown team pay, scoring his first power-play goal of the season.

Detroit got on the board when Marchenko’s shot from the bottom of the right face-off circle got through traffic and behind Rask. It was the second goal of the season for Marchenko and the third of his career.


SCORING: 1. BOS, Krug PPG (Eriksson, Krejci), 5:02; 2. DET, Marchenko (Zetterberg, Nyquist), 6:59.

PENALTIES: 1. BOS, Beleskey (cross-checking), 1:37; 2. DET, Ericsson (holding), 4:16.

SHOTS: Detroit 5 (13), Boston 12 (23).

Through the first 40 minutes of this game the Bruins minimized the Red Wings’ speed through the neutral zone. In the final 20 minutes they slammed the down on Detroit’s first opportunity to clinch a playoff berth.

Goals by Lee Stempniak and Loui Eriksson gave the Bruins a 5-1 lead in the opening 45 seconds of the final period. The two quick goals ended Howard’s night as he was lifted in favor of Petr Mrazek.
Howard, who made 21 saves, had recorded wins in each of his previous six starts, dating back to a 3-1 win at Columbus on March 17.

The power play that had been a source of strength over the last nine games was absent Thursday, mustering just two shots on goal while going 0 for 4 with the man advantage.

The Wings finished the game with 15 shots on goal. They got two – by Luke Glendening and Andreas Athanasiou – in the period.
Athanasiou’s wrist shot capped the scoring, getting through Rask with 1:23 left.


SCORING: 1. BOS, Stempniak (Krug, Marchand), 0:20; 2. BOS, Loui Eriksson (Krejci, Spooner), 0:45;  3. DET, Athanasiou (Marchenko, Quincey), 18:37.

PENALTIES: 1. BOS, Krug (holding), 2:42; 2. DET, Zetterberg (slashing), 4:57.

SHOTS: Detroit 2 (15), Boston 11 (34).

POSTED ON Friday, 04.1.2016 / 10:03 PM ET
By Bill Roose - / The Wheel Deal

DETROIT – For the third straight game coach Jeff Blashill has decided to go with Alexey Marchenko over Brendan Smith, who will watch from the Red Wings’ dressing room Friday night.

Blashill insists the Wings have seven solid defensemen on the roster and each goes through an evaluation before a decision is made on which six will play the next game.

“I don’t know that it’s only a decision between those two,” said Blashill, when asked why Marchenko would play instead of Smith against the Minnesota Wild tonight. “It doesn’t mean that we don’t consider all seven of them and look at and say who is gonna be in the lineup and who’s not. … We have seven guys who have proven to be good NHL defensemen throughout their careers but I think each seven can also play better and we’re gonna need to play better tonight to make sure we put ourselves in a position to win a hockey game.”

A chief concern among the players lately has been the drop off in communication among teammates on the ice, which has lead to turnovers and scoring chances against.

“It’s critical, it’s something that (Chris Chelios) has been talking about since day one here,” Blashill said. “He’s been a believer that, in general, guys can talk a lot more. Certainly it’s something that we’ve re-emphasized here lately. I think it’s been much better; I can hear it in practice. But I think it’s hard to always have your head up and see the whole ice, so that’s where talking can help you see the ice. So that’s the biggest thing with that.”

The Wings will need to cut down on the turnovers against the Wild, who have points in eight of the past 10 games, and are five points ahead of Colorado for the final wild car spot in the Western Conference playoff race.

With five games remaining, it seems more likely that the Red Wings (87 points) can pass the Boston Bruins (88 points) for third place in the Atlantic Division before they’ll trump Philadelphia (89 points) for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference.

For a power play that has underperformed for much of the season, the Wild certainly didn’t want to give the Red Wings too many chances to get their offense revved up.

But they did … and the Red Wings took advantage of it.

Dylan Larkin’s 23nd goal of the season extended the Wings’ power play streak to seven straight games with at least one goal with the man advantage.

Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg assisted on the goal scored at 12:52. With his goal, Larkin moves into 12th place on the team’s all-time rookie scoring list with 45 points.

Earlier in the period, a giveaway by Mike Green deep in the Red Wings’ zone created an ideal scoring chance for Jarret Stoll at 5:41 of the period. But the Wild center missed scoring the game’s first goal by a fraction of an inch when his snap shot struck the far post and stayed out of the net.

Jimmy Howard wasn’t challenged much in the period, though he did look shaky on a few of the shots that he had to handle.

Midway through the period Justin Abdelkader was involved in a scrum with Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter near the side of the Wild net. It appeared that Suter wrapped his gloved hand around Abdelkader’s face. The Wings’ forward immediately skated off to the dressing room. He did not return to the team bench for the rest of the period.


SCORING: 1. DET, Larkin PPG (Kronwall, Zetterberg), 12:52.

PENALTIES: 1. DET, Quincey (holding), 6:08; 1. MIN, Stoll (slashing), 9:36; 3. MIN, Zucker (tripping), 12:04.

Detroit 11, Minnesota 5.

Abdelkader return for the start of the period.

Riley Sheahan, who got jobbed on a power-play goal in the first period, picked up an assist – his fifth point in the past five games – on Tomas Tatar’s sharp angle goal at 2:32. Gustav Nyquist also picked up an assist on the goal that put the Wings up 2-0.

The Wings nearly went up three goals but Luke Glendening’s shot struck the crossbar behind Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk at the six-minute mark.

Things got a little rough in the second half of the period after Abdelkader laid out Marco Scandella at the blue line. Defenseman Matt Dumba took exception and challenged Abdelkader by the Red Wings’ bench. Both players went to the bench box to serve two-minute minors.

The Wild picked up the pressure late and finally solved Howard when a point shot by Jonas Brodin, which may have been tipped by Zetterberg’s stick, beat the Wings’ netminder on the far stick side.


SCORING: 1. DET, Tatar (Nyquist, Sheahan), 2:32; 2. MIN, Brodin (Suter, Parise), 16:42.

PENALTIES: 1. MIN, Dumba (roughing), 11:05; 2. DET, Abdelkader (cross-checking), 11:05.

SHOTS: Detroit 8 (19), Minnesota 12 (17).

Pavel Datsyuk left the game in the first minutes of the period. The Wings’ center headed to the dressing room under his own power after Wild forward Nino Niederreiter accidentally struck him above the shoulders. No penalty was called.

However, the Wings managed to score on the next shift when the Sheahan line produced again.

Sheahan got the goal when he wrapped the puck around Dubnyk’s outstretched right pad at 2:08. Jonathan Ericsson picked up the lone assist on the play.

Datsyuk missed nearly half the period and returned to the bench in time to witness the Wild’s second goal of the game that cut Detroit’s lead to 3-2. This time it was center Mikael Granland, from Suter and Zach Parise at 9:43.

The Wild lifted Dubnyk for an extra attacker at 18:38. But the Wings came up with a big defensive effort late to seal the win, including Danny DeKeyser, who had a huge clear from inside the blue paint.


SCORING: 1. DET, Sheahan (Ericsson), 2:08; 2. MIN, Granland (Suter, Parise), 9:43.


Detroit 10 (29), Minnesota 5 (22).

POSTED ON Monday, 03.28.2016 / 10:11 PM ET
By Bill Roose - / The Wheel Deal

DETROIT – The Red Wings begin a grueling two-week sprint to the end of the regular season tonight when they host the Buffalo Sabres at Joe Louis Arena.

Also, tonight, the Wings start the first of three back-to-back sets of games. They’ll travel later this evening to Montreal, where they will play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

The Red Wings are trying to extend their playoff streak to 25 straight years. Detroit owns the longest active playoff streak in North American pro sports.

Detroit and Philadelphia, who are engaged in a battle for the second wild card playoff spot, are the only Eastern Conference clubs with three sets of back-to-back games left on its schedules.

Following Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Pittsburgh, the Wings took Sunday off. They will also use this Wednesday as a rest day after facing the Sabres and Canadiens on back-to-back nights.

“In this league, especially, rest is a critical part of success, can certainly be as critical as practice,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We’ve tried to monitor our rest days versus our practice days. As I told them after the game, that game’s over, let’s move on to the next game, so hopefully our focus has been on Buffalo all day yesterday and today.”

With seven games left, it seems the Red Wings need to win at least six of the remaining games that would give them 97 points. However, the Wings have not won six of seven games during any stretch of this season.

“For us we want to play in the postseason and when we do that, obviously the streak continues,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “In here our main focus is not the streak. It’s to be able to play in the playoffs. That’s the message that we try to get through here.”

Since 1999-2000, when the league began awarding a point for an overtime/shootout loss, 11 teams that have finished with 92 to 96 points have not qualified for the postseason, including Boston (96), Los Angeles (95) and Dallas (92) last season.

Jimmy Howard will get his first start since he was pulled after allowing three goals on 16 shots in a 6-2 loss at Tampa Bay last Tuesday.

Goaltending has been an up-and-down proposition this season but Howard gives the Red Wings the best chance to beat the Sabres tonight. Since Feb. 18, Howard has a 3-2-1 record with a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.

Meanwhile, Petr Mrazek has experienced a hard fall since mid-February. In that time, he has a 6-7-2 record with a 3.30 GAA, an .888 save percentage, and has been pulled four times.

Howard said he won’t change his approach to this start.

“Just play the way I know I’m capable of playing,” he said. “If I can do that,

then I just give the guys a chance.

“We’ve got to focus on ourselves and going out there and putting forth a 60-minute effort. It’s down to do or die like it has been for the last month. We’ve got to find a way to win games here.”

Alexey Marchenko, who has been a healthy scratch for the past four games, will play tonight and be paired with defenseman Niklas Kronwall. To make room in the lineup, Brendan Smith will not play. He had played in nine straight games.

Dylan Larkin became the highest scoring rookie in Red Wings history when he scored his 22nd goal of the season. His power-play goal at 18:32 of the first period ties him with Zetterberg, also collected 22 goals and 44 points in his freshman campaign in 2002-03.

Larkin had a glorious scoring chance on a near breakaway but Josh Gorges got back in time to distract the Wings’ rookie, preventing him from getting a quality shot on Sabres goalie Chad Johnson.

Seconds later, the Wings went on the power play when Nicolas Deslauriers was called for hitting Marchenko with an elbow along the half wall. The Wings managed to get one shot on goal during the man advantage but not much else.

Detroit had three power play chances in the period; Buffalo had one opportunity when Brad Richards went to the box for hooking.

With 7:13 left in the period, Karen Newman led the sold out crowd in a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to Red Wings legend Gordie Howe, who will turn 88 years old on Thursday.

The Wings finished with five shots during 3:03 of power play time. Larkin is now tied for 12th with Zetterberg and Dallas Drake (1992-93) in rookie scoring in franchise history.


1. DET, Larkin PPG (Zetterberg, Kronwall), 18:32.

PENALTIES: 1. BUF, Deslauriers (elbowing), 8:21; 2. BUF, Larsson, (hooking), 12:47; 3. DET, Richards (hooking), 13:27; 4, BUF, Gorges (interference), 18:09.

Detroit 12, Buffalo 4.

It might have been the prettiest goal of his NHL career. A coast-to-coast effort by Riley Sheahan spotted the Red Wings a two-goal lead midway through the second period.

Sheahan’s 12th goal of the season was his fifth in his past 20 games, and third in the three games. He scored twice in Detroit’s 4-3 win over Montreal last Thursday.

The Wings came close to going up 3-0 lead in the waning seconds of the period, but Johnson managed to cover up a loose puck before Tomas Tatar could get a stick on it.

The Sabres’ nine shots is the lowest total allowed by the Red Wings through two periods of any game this season.

SCORING: 1. DET, Sheahan (unassisted), 9:05.

PENALTIES: 1. DET, Ericsson (holding), 0:30; 2. BUF, Foligno (cross-checking), 15:44.

SHOTS: Detroit 9 (21), Buffalo 5 (9).

Howard wasn’t challenged much but he certainly seems to have the Sabres’ number throughout his career. With Monday’s win, Howard now has a 7-0-1 record against Buffalo. Howard has allowed just 13 goals in eight career starts against the Sabres.

However, Buffalo made Howard earn his win late in the game. The Sabres scored consecutive goals just 62 seconds apart to make the Wings sweat.

Luke Glendening capped the Wings’ scoring with an empty-net goal at 17 minutes to put Detroit up 3-0. But 10 seconds later, the Sabres punched one passed Howard when Zemgus Girgensons scored his sixth goal of the season, and then Sam Reinhart scored on a blast from the half wall with 1:49 remaining in regulation.
With the Flyers’ overtime win over Winnipeg, the Red Wings remain on the outside of the playoff race by virtue of having played one more game than Philadelphia. The Wings and Flyers are tied with 87 points, but Detroit has played 76 games to Philadelphia’s 75.


SCORING: 1. DET, Glendening EN (Zetterberg), 17:00; 2. BUF, Girgensons (Gionta, Nelson), 17:10; 3. BUF, Reinhart (Nelson, O’Reilly), 18:12.

PENALTIES: 1. BUF, McCabe (interference), 6:15; 2. DET, Abdelkader (hooking), 11:31.

SHOTS: Detroit 8 (29), Buffalo 11 (20).

POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.22.2016 / 10:10 PM ET
By Bill Roose - / The Wheel Deal
Steven Stamkos

TAMPA, Fla. – Playoff seeding is still in doubt, and for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos that makes the Red Wings – who are in a battle to reach the postseason for a 25th consecutive season – perhaps more dangerous than usual.

“If you look at their group over there they have a great group of veteran guys and some great young talent that’s coming this year and have played extremely well,” the Lightning’s leading scorer said following Tuesday’s morning skate at Amalie Arena.

With 10 games remaining, the Red Wings are clinching to the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. But with a regulation win tonight the Wings would trail the second-place Lightning by just two points in the Atlantic Division.

“We’ve had tight games with them all year,” Stamkos said. “You go back to the playoff series, arguably our closest and toughest playoff series with obviously the exception of Chicago, the games that we’ve played this year have been tight. They had a big comeback win in Florida. They’re feeling good about their game. We have to be a team that comes out and matches their effort level and it’s going to be a good challenge for us tonight.”

Tyler Johnson, who has a goal and an assist in the three-game season series, knows the Wings’ personnel better than most. He was one of the Lightning’s players who lost in the 2013 AHL Calder Cup finals against the Wings’ minor-league farm hands.

The 25-year-old Johnson said it’s quite easy to get up for games against the Wings.

“I think some of the guys who played in the AHL have a better understanding of (the Detroit-Tampa Bay rivalry) playing in the Calder Cup against them, and then throughout the seasons and playing against them in the playoffs as well,” he said. “I personally think as a team that we grew the most when we played Detroit in that series. That was one of the toughest series we ever played in and that really got our team ready for the rest of the playoffs there.”

The Red Wings have dropped five straight regular-season decisions in Tampa Bay, while posting a 2-7-1 record in the last 10 games, including last spring’s opening-round playoff series won by the Lightning in seven games.

But Detroit has 2-1-0 in the season series, having posted 3-1 and 2-1 wins in the opening month of the season at Joe Louis Arena.

The Lightning stormed to a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes of the fourth and final meeting between these clubs in the regular season. Ondrej Palat set up the scoring play when he lofted a saucer pass to Erik Condra, who slipped behind Niklas Kronwall before wristing a 20-footer over Jimmy Howard’s left catching glove.

The Red Wings have now surrendered the first goal in nine of the last 10 games.

Tampa Bay opened up a two-goal lead when Vladislav Namestnikov slid a rebound between Howard’s legs at 9:55. It was the Lightning’s 12th sot of the period.

The period turned chippy as Cedric Paquette took runs at a few Red Wings, including Kyle Quincey and Luke Glendening on the same shift. Quincey got up slowly after the Lightning center sent him into the boards behind the Wings’ net. Moments later Paquette drew Glendening into a roughing penalty that the Wings managed to kill successfully.


SCORING: 1. TBL, Condra (Palat, Boyle), 1:47; 2. TBL, Namestnikov (Brown), 9:55.

PENALTIES: 1. DET, Quincey (roughing), 7:17; 2. TBL, Paquette (roughing), 7:17; 3. DET, Glendening (roughing), 15:34.

SHOTS: Detroit 7, Tampa Bay 15.

Coach Jeff Blashill saw enough of Howard after the veteran surrendered a fluky goal to Stamkos just 33 seconds into the middle period. Stamkos’s 34th goal of the season came as he tried to make a pass into the slot but the puck caromed off Jonathan Ericsson and passed Howard who never saw it.

For Howard, who made 13 saves on 16 shots, it was the third time this season he was lifted. He was also relieved from starts against New Jersey (Dec. 22) and Winnipeg (Dec. 29).

Brendan Smith tried giving a spark to the Wings when he challenged J.T. Brown. Both tossed a few punches without doing any damage and received fighting majors for their efforts. It was Smith’s second fight this season.

The Wings solved big Ben Bishop with their third power-play goal in the last two games. Standing at the left side of the crease, Justin Abdelkader scored on a rebound from Henrik Zetterberg’s shot. It was Abdelkader’s sixth power-play goal of the season, but his first since Dec. 10.

Petr Mrazek had to made a heady save when with 5:19 left the Lightning’s Johnson slipped into the zone, splitting Smith and Mike Green before getting a shot off that the Wings’ goalie smothered.

Almost like they did in Florida on Saturday, the Wings got a lift with a late goal in the second period. Darren Helm used Alex Killorn as a screen the slot and whipped an off-balance shot between Bishop’s legs at 15:25.

Pavel Datsyuk and Anthony Mantha picked up assists on the Wings’ second goal of the game. For Mantha, how is playing in his fourth career game for the Wings, the assist is his first point in in the league.

The Wings put themselves in a pickle when Green and Abdelkader worked their way to the penalty box just 12 seconds apart giving the Lightning a 5-on-3 man advantage.  And it didn’t take Tampa Bay long to regain a two-goal lead when Nikita Kucherov tapped a pass/shot from Johnson behind Mrazek.

Niklas Kronwall was called for slashing with 1:13 left in the period. The Wings still must kill off 47 seconds of a Lightning power play at the start of the third period.


SCORING: 1. TBL, Stamkos (Kucherov, Hedman), 0:33; 2. DET, Abdelkader PPG (Zetterberg, Kronwall), 8:08; 3. DET, Helm (Datsyuk, Mantha), 15:25; 4. TBL, Kucherov PPG (Johnson, Stamkos), 17:42.

PENALTIES: 1. DET, Smith (fighting), 2:21; 2. TBL, Brown (fighting), 2:21; 3. Killorn (roughing), 6:34; 4. DET, Green (tripping), 16:41; 5. Abdelkader (cross-checking), 16:53; 6. DET, Kronwall (slashing), 18:47.

SHOTS: Detroit 9 (16), Tampa Bay 12 (27).

The Lightning reestablished a three-goal lead when Palat went hard to the net and tapped a backhander off a rebound from Johnson’s shot. Palat’s second goal of the game was his 15th of the season.

The Wings trailed by three goals twice in this game. It was the seventh time in the past 10 games that Detroit has been down by two goals or more. They trailed Florida (March 19), Philadelphia (March 15), Winnipeg (March 10), Columbus (March 8), and Chicago (March 6, March 2).

The Red Wings now head home where they’ll play the next three at Joe Louis Arena beginning Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens.

Condra capped the scoring with his second goal of the game at 16:56.

Coupled with Philadelphia’s  shoot out loss at Columbus, the Red Wings and Flyers have 84 points each, but because the Flyers have one game in hand they leapfrog Detroit for the second and final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference standings.


SCORING: 1. TBL, Palat (Johnson, Hedman), 1:03; 2. TBL, Condra (Boyle), 16:56.

PENALTIES: 1. DET, Nyquist (slashing), 5:21; 2. TBL, Namestnikov (slashing), 5:21.

SHOTS: Detroit 9 (25), Tampa Bay 7 (34).

POSTED ON Saturday, 03.19.2016 / 9:53 PM ET
By Bill Roose - / The Wheel Deal

SUNRISE, Fla. – The Red Wings received some help this afternoon when Pittsburgh defeated Philadelphia, 4-1, keeping the Flyers one point behind Detroit for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Now the Wings can work on creating some distance by getting two points tonight against the Atlantic Division-leading Florida Panthers at BB&T Center.

The Red Wings, who are 5-5-0 in the past 10 games, are coming off a 3-1 win at Columbus on Thursday. They will have one of their core leaders return night.

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall missed the last three games after suffering a sprained right knee last Saturday against the New York Rangers.

“Well, first of all, he’s an elite leader,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s been a big leader for this organization for a long time, so I think having him in our lineup will be important. We’re still gonna evaluate after warmups, make sure everything’s good in terms of our D corps, but Nik’s a big part of our team, has been for a long time.”

Jimmy Howard draws the starting assignment against the Panthers. It will be just the second time this season that the veteran goalie has started in back-to-back games for the Red Wings.

He also got the win against the Blue Jackets, making 27 saves. Petr Mrazek was supported to start Thursday but he’s became ill earlier in the week. He’s still feeling under the weather, though he did participate in Saturday’s optional skate.

Still, Howard has been playing quite well, and the Wings have all the confidence in him to get the job done against the Panthers. In six career games against the Panthers, Howard has a 2-2-2 record with a 2.43 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.

“He’s played real well lately, but he’s also got a resume that says he’s been a great goalie in this league,” Blashill said. “So no different than Florida, they’ve had two goalies be real good for them. It just seems to be in the league that it’s such a tight league you can’t afford any kind of letdowns, and certainly injuries and sickness and those things are a part of it. You have to have two guys that are gonna be impact players at the position, and Jimmy has been certainly lots this year and throughout his career.”

The Red Wings had scoring chances as Anthony Mantha and Gustav Nyquist each had early opportunities.

But it was the Panthers who took a first-period lead on a turnover in the Red Wings’ zone orchestrated by Jiri Hudler and Jakub Kindl.

While Kindl didn’t get an assist, he did figured in the scoring play when his shot from the left point was blocked by Kronwall. The puck deflected to the right faceoff circle where Jonathan Ericsson tried a clearing attempt but Nick Bjugstad held the puck in the side at the blue line and played give-and-go with Hudler.

Bjugstad then made no mistake, snapped a shot that appeared to glance off Howard’s left-catching glove and into the net for a 1-0 lead at 10:49.

Late in the period, Kindl gave the Wings the gift of a power play when he was whistled for hooking rookie Andreas Athanasiou deep in the Panthers’ zone.

Four seconds later, Tomas Tatar became the Wings’ second 20-goal scorer of the season when he tipped Brad Richards’ shot from the left circle. It was the Wings’ first power-play goal in the last four games.


SCORING: 1. FLA, Bjugstad (Hudler), 10:49; 2. DET, Tatar PPG (Richards, Green), 18:25.

PENALTIES: 1. FLA, Kindl (hooking), 18:21; 2. DET, Abdelkader (high-sticking), 19:43.

SHOTS: Detroit 11, Florida 6.

The Panthers regained the lead which was set up by another turnover by the Red Wings. This time Pavel Datsyuk’s clear at the blue line hit a skate and the puck ended up on Jussi Jokinen’s stick. The Panthers’ veteran forward then spotted Vincent Trocheck breaking into the zone alone, and with an easy path to the net, he managed to slip a backhand shot underneath Howard.

Hard work on the forecheck led to the Panthers building a two-goal lead late in the period. Bjugstad picked up his second point of the game when he out-battled a Wings’ defender for the puck in the corner and slid a pass to Teddy Purcell out front. After a move to get around Mike Green, Purcell wristed a shot behind Howard for a 3-1 edge.

The Red Wings had two power play chances when Alex Petrovic went to the box on consecutive penalties for roughing and tripping late in the frame. They didn’t have success on the first opportunity, but Datsyuk found the back of the net with a fluttering shot from a scramble in front of Roberto Luongo with 10.1 seconds showing on the clock.

Darren Helm finished with period with a tripping penalty at the 20-minute mark.


SCORING: 1. FLA, Trocheck (Jokinen), 7:08; 2. FLA, Purcell (Bjugstad), 12:48; 3. DET, Datsyuk PPG (Abdelkader, Nyquist), 19:49.

PENALTIES: 1. DET, Smith (holding the stick), 9:48; 2. FLA, Petrovic (roughing), 15:17; 3. FLA, Petrovic (tripping), 18:36; 4. Helm (tripping), 20:00.

SHOTS: Detroit 12 (23), Florida 11 (17).

Sandwiched around Abdelkader’s 20th career fight, Dylan Larkin and Luke Glendening scored huge goals and Howard finished with 23 saves and the Red Wings capped a 4-3 comeback victory.

Larkin pulled the Wings even with a quick shot off a rebound surrendered off Luongo’s pads. The Panthers’ goalie made the initial stop on Ericsson’s shot but Larkin swooped in on the rebound and whistled a shot between Luongo’s left pad and the near post for the tying goal.

The goal gives Larkin a team-best 21 goals on the season.

Abdelkader and Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau slashed one another as they finished a shift in front of the team benches. The slashes escalated to fisticuffs and a pair of fighting majors assessed to both.

Moments later, Larkin helped put the Wings in front as his shot from the halfway was redirected by Glendening, who managed to change the flight of the puck before it beat Luongo.

Larkin now has 43 points, which is one shy of tying Zetterberg, who is the last Wings’ rookie to produce at least 44 points since 2002-03. That season, he finished with 22 goals and 22 assists in 79 games.

Datsyuk added an empty-net goal.

The win gives the Wings 83 points and a three-point cushion over the Flyers for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.


SCORING: 1. DET, Larkin (Ericsson, Kronwall), 3:52; 2. DET, Glendening (Larkin, Kronwall), 8:39; 3. DET, Datsyuk EN (Abdelkader), 19:23.

PENALTIES: 1. DET, Abdelkader (fighting), 6:18; 2. FLA, Huberdeau (fighting), 6:18; 3. DET, Quincey (roughing), 15:21; 4. FLA, Jokinen (roughing), 15:21.

Detroit 7 (30), Florida 9 (26).

POSTED ON Thursday, 03.17.2016 / 9:36 PM ET
By Bill Roose - / The Wheel Deal
Tomas Tatar celebrates his first-period goal in a 5-0 win at Columbus on Nov. 18, 2014. That was the last time the Red Wings had a lead at Nationwide Arena. (Photo by Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Catch-up hockey is losing hockey.

Those words, made popular by a former Red Wings’ coach, were never truer than they are now for the Red Wings who have played less than five minutes – total – with a lead this month.

“I don’t know. It could be a lot of things,” said Justin Abdelkader, as he searched for answers Thursday morning. “I just think with us we gotta be a team that limits our turnovers. I think once we start turning pucks over we give teams opportunities to come back on us. We’re a team that if we can use our speed and our skating ability and get pucks behind defensemen and get pucks through the neutral zone, I think we can be a really good team. That’s just part of doing things right for 60 minutes.”

The Red Wings, who are in Columbus tonight, began the day as the No. 9 seed with 79 points, trailing Philadelphia by one point in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

In seven games this month, Detroit is 2-5-0, and its only lead came in the final 4:36 against Winnipeg after Abdelkader scored to lift the Wings to a 3-2 win over the Jets on March 10. Even in their 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers two nights later, the Wings trailed throughout until Darren Helm provided Detroit with its second straight comeback victory.

Unfortunately, those wins have been sandwiched by losses to Chicago (twice), Columbus, Toronto and Philadelphia where the Wings never led.

“You look at the shots, I understand how everybody says, ‘Oh, you didn’t start well.’ We started fine,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said, referring to Tuesday’s 4-3 loss at Philadelphia. “Our first 5-6 minutes were good. We had a chance in front of the net. I thought we had two opportunities to draw penalties that didn’t get called. That’s the way it goes. Once we got scored on, we got scored on right away again and we got on our heels a little bit. We gotta do a better job of being resilient in those situations. But to be honest with you, we’re looking forward to a big game here tonight.”

In recent seasons, the Jackets have caused fits for the Wings, posting a 10-2-2 record in the past 14 games, including 6-1-1 at Nationwide Arena against Detroit.

Jimmy Howard gets the start tonight against the Blue Jackets, who have lost four of their past six games. Howard has an 11-6-3 all-time record with a 2.00 goals-against average and .926 save percentage against Columbus.

Finally, the Red Wings scored in the first period.

Luke Glendening’s tip off of Riley Sheahan’s blast from the top of the slot was the first first-period goal scored by Detroit in six games. Gustav Nyquist tallied in the first during a 4-1 loss to Chicago at the United Center in March 6.
It’s also just the second time the Wings have played with a lead this month.

Playing in just his second NHL game, Anthony Mantha slid hard into the right goal post behind Jackets’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky late in the period. It appeared the rookie slammed his ribs in the metal post. He managed to skate slowly off the ice with trainer Piet Van Zant by his side. Once he reached the bench though Mantha headed straight down the tunnel to the Red Wings’ dressing room.


SCORING: 1. DET, Glendening (Sheahan, Athanasiou), 10:23.

PENALTIES: 1. CBJ, Karlsson (high-sticking), 7:28; 2. CBJ, Hartnell (high-sticking), 13:09.

SHOTS: Detroit 9, Columbus 5.

The Red Wings’ penalty killers were called into action to defend against a pair of Jackets’ power plays in the second period. Abdelkader, Glendening and Jonathan Ericsson all had clearing attempts that made it out of the defensive zone as Kyle Quincey and Henrik Zetterberg served back-to-back penalties.

Brendan Smith and Howard teamed up to make a big defensive stop on Nick Foligno late in the period. As the Jackets’ captain coasted down the right wing, Smith made a diving play from behind to disrupt the scoring chance. Howard still needed to make a heads-up play to cover the puck, which got knocked off Foligno’s stick, before it could cross the goal line.

Moments later, Foligno set up Scott Hartnell, whose rising shot hit a kneeling Howard in the shoulder. As the goalie flinched the puck rolled down his right arm and landed next to the left goal post where Hartnell battled with Mike Green. But Hartnell’s second attempt struck the side of the cage.



PENALTIES: 1. DET, Quincey (holding), 2:29; 2. DET, Zetterberg (interference), 5:12; 3. CBJ, Dubinsky (holding), 18:36.

SHOTS: Detroit 7 (16), Columbus 13 (17).

The Red Wings opened the period with 36 seconds left of a power play as Brendan Dubinsky served the rest of his holding penalty that carried over from the end of the second period.

With 14:37 left in regulation the Red Wings used their timeout ahead of a faceoff deep in the D-zone.

Zetterberg gave the Wings a two-goal cushion with 12:44 left, scooping a rebound over Bobrovsky. Abdelkader had the initial shot but the Jackets’ goalie gave up a juicy rebound for the Wings’ captain who collected his 13th goal of the season.

Dylan Larkin was credited with a secondary assist, giving him 41 points on the season and sole possession of 14th all-time on the franchise’s rookie points list. He’s one point shy of tying radio analyst Paul Woods, who produced 42 points in 1977-78.

Helm scored his third goal in his past three games to pad the Red Wings’ lead, 3-0, late in the period.

Howard was definitely a bright spot for the Wings, who were desperate for a win.

The win lifts the Red Wings back into the second wild card position. Detroit now has 81 points to the Flyers’ 80.


1. DET, Zetterberg (Abdelkader, Larkin), 7:16; 2. Helm (Glendening), 12:35; 3. CBJ Wennberg PPG (Atkinson, Jenner), 19:00.

PENALTIES: 1. DET, Smith (hooking), 18:49.

SHOTS: Detroit 6 (22), Columbus 11 (28).





1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80