Stanley Cup Playoff Preview: Lightning vs. Red Wings

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) defends Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg (40). (Tony Ding/AP)

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings will meet in the post-season for the first time when the puck drops on the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday.

It’s the team Steve Yzerman built as a general manager versus the team he won three Stanley Cups with as a player.

Steven Stamkos leads a Lightning team that finished with a league-best 3.17 goals per game, while the Red Wings ice the NHL’s second-best power play behind an intriguing mix of veterans and youth. Could this be Mike Babcock’s last run behind the Red Wings’ bench? A run at the franchise’s fifth Stanley Cup in the past 20 years could help dictate the coach’s plans for 2015-16 and beyond.

The Lightning have home-ice advantage in this series.

(A2) vs. (A3)

G1 Thurs., April 16 Detroit @ Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m. ET Sportsnet
G2 Sat., April 18 Detroit @ Tampa Bay, 3 p.m. ET CBC
G3 Tues., April 21 Tampa Bay @ Detroit, 7 p.m. ET Sportsnet
G4 Thurs., April 23 Tampa Bay @ Detroit, 7 p.m. ET CBC
G5* Sat., April 25 Detroit @ Tampa Bay, TBD TBD
G6* Mon., April 27 Tampa Bay @ Detroit, TBD TBD
G7* Wed., April 29 Detroit @ Tampa Bay, TBD TBD
Play-by-play: Rick Ball; Game Analyst: John Garrett; Reporter: Dan Murphy

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: 50-24-8. 3rd in Eastern Conference
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DETROIT RED WINGS: 43-25-14. 6th in Eastern Conference
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Tampa Bay Lightning: 3-1-0
Detroit Red Wings: 1-2-1

Last game played head-to-head: Petr Mrazek stopped 23 shots in his fourth career shutout to take the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-0 final over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, March 28. Pavel Datsyuk was back in the lineup for Detroit after missing five games.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos (72 pts), Tyler Johnson (72), Nikita Kucherov (64)
Detroit Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg (66), Pavel Datsyuk (65), Tomas Tatar (56)

Tampa Bay Lightning: 5on5CF% – 53.3; 5on5Sv% – .919; 5on5Sh% – 9.03; PDO = 101.0
Detroit Red Wings: 5on5CF% – 53.7; 5on5Sv% – .924; 5on5Sh% – 7.34; PDO = 99.8

Tampa Bay Lightning: 6-3-1
Detroit Red Wings: 4-4-2

LAST TIME THEY MET IN THE PLAYOFFS: With the Red Wings moving to the Eastern Conference at the beginning of the 2013-14 season and the Lightning having faced the Calgary Flames in the franchise’s only Stanley Cup Final appearance, this will mark the first time these two hockey clubs have faced each other in the post-season.

Steven Stamkos (who else?) skates circles around the Ottawa Senators en route to a magnificent goal on Robin Lehner.

We knew puck possession was important, but Gustav Nyquist took it to a whole new level. Nyquist possessed the puck for almost 30 full seconds before firing home an overtime winner.

Tampa Bay: Alex Killorn (day-to-day: undisclosed), Andrej Sustr (day-to-day: upper-body), Jason Garrison (day-to-day: upper-body), Braydon Coburn (IR: lower-body)

Detroit: Justin Abdelkader (day-to-day: hand), Tomas Jurco (day-to-day: upper body), Erik Cole (day-to-day: spinal cord contusion), Jonas Gustavsson (day-to-day: concussion-like symptoms), Johan Franzen (IR: concussion)

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