Detroit (36-25-11) at Tampa Bay (41-26-5)
When: Tuesday, March 22nd 2016
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
Time: 7:35 ET | TV: FSN Detroit, Sun Sports
That battle for Eastern Conference Playoff positioning takes center stage tonight in Tampa as the Lightning host the Detroit Red Wings. Tampa Bay is just two points behind the Florida Panthers for the Atlantic Division lead after the Panthers lost last night in New York to the Rangers. Tampa has played one less game than Florida and begins a six-game homestand before closing out the regular season with four straight on the road. They’ll get the Panthers at home one last time on Saturday night. The Lightning just ended a 2-2 road trip by shutting out the Arizona Coyotes 2-0 on Saturday behind Ben Bishop’s fifth shutout of the season and franchise-best 15th of his career. Bishop, who leads the league in goals-against average (2.02), passed Nikolai Khabibulin for the franchise lead in shutouts and has posted a pair of them for his team’s only victories in its last seven games (2-4-1). Captain Steven Stamkos has scored four goals in as many games to lead the team with 33 and Nikita Kucherov had recorded three points in his last two contests. Victor Hedman leads the team with a +17 rating and is +38 over the last two seasons, including the playoffs. C Valtteri Filppula (upper body) has missed the last three games and is questionable for Tuesday night’s game.
The Red Wings are still clinging to a one-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for the final spot in the Eastern Conference Playoff race. Detroit needs to keep winning, because they have played one more game than the Flyers. The Wings schedule includes a date with the Flyers on April 6th and they’ll play Montreal (twice), Toronto, and Buffalo down the stretch. They will close the season on the road in Boston and then the Rangers. The Red Wings rebounded nicely after losing at Philadelphia last week by winning at Columbus and Florida by a combined 8-4. Rookie Dylan Larkin recorded his first two-point performance in a month and a half on Saturday and has three points in his last two games. He had two total points in the previous 16 games and has 43 points overall. Captain Henrik Zetterberg has the team lead with 44 points, while Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar each have recorded three points in the last two wins. Jimmy Howard is expected to start in goal tonight for the ailing Petr Mrazek. Howard has picked up Detroit’s last two wins and has a 2.76 GAA for the season.
Detroit has been pretty good on the road this season and they’re 2-1 against the Lightning. Larkin has picked up his game and that’s a great sign for the Red Wings who have scored three or more goals in six of their last seven games.
Pick: Red Wings +135