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Red Wings' success marred by poor penalty kill

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Tampa, Fla. — The Red Wings have won six straight games and are in first place in the Atlantic Division.

But all is not well.

A penalty kill that has ranked near the best in the NHL this season is eighth at 83.2 percent.

One culprit was the three Panthers power-play goals allowed Tuesday, though the Red Wings did win, 5-4.

"Our penalty kill's not great right now," said center Luke Glendening, one of the keys to the unit. "We've got to get back on track. When the PK is struggling and you're taking penalties, that can be a problem.

"We're working hard, but things just aren't going our way. We know we've got to clean things up."

Being shorthanded 19 times in the last five games hasn't helped.

"You don't want to be in the box, so we've got to be a little better at doing the right things and be a little more disciplined," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We're not doing anything differently (on the penalty kill). The pucks aren't bouncing our way. There's no panic."

Coach Mike Babcock believes the Red Wings' confidence could be shaken on the penalty kill after the recent slide. Now, it's just a matter of re-establishing that confidence.

"Let's get on our toes and be a little more detail-oriented," Babcock said.

Jurco expected back

Babcock expects forward Tomas Jurco (sore back) to play tonight against the Lightning after missing the last eight games.

"I'm assuming (Jurco) is (playing) until someone tells me differently," Babcock said.

Jurco, who has skated the last three days, was on a line with Joakim Anderssonand Daniel Cleary during Wednesday's practice.

Babcock also said defenseman Jakub Kindl (elbow) has been cleared but will not play tonight because Xavier Ouellet has played impressively in Kindl's place.

Ice chips

Babcock, on Florida's third-period pressure: "At times, especially in the third period, we were as bad as we've been with the puck in our own zone. We have to be much more mistake free and tighter defensively, and with our execution that we've been in the last little bit."

... Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder) continues to increase his activity and soon could be sent to Grand Rapids for a conditioning game or two.

… Babcock, on center Riley Sheahan, who had two assists Tuesday: "Riley Sheahan is really becoming a player and that's important for us."

Red Wings at Lightning

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fla.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: Tampa Bay is 1-0 against Detroit (4-3, shootout). ... Tampa Bay is on a 6-4-0 run, but is 19-4-1 at home. ... Tampa Bay C Steven Stamkos is fourth in the league with 26 goals.