After slow day in net, Mrazek gets another start

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Detroit — Petr Mrazek looked better, and he won — yet again.

Mrazek did not see a lot of action on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, either. And that all adds up to him starting Sunday against the New York Islanders.

"Mrazek made some big saves, two in a row when we made a mistake on the penalty kill," Mike Babcock said. "I thought he was real solid today."

Mrazek improved to 15-7-1.

"He was real good with the puck," Babcock said. "That helps our 'D.' And then, he was solid when he needed to be

"He didn't have that much work, so that gives him an opportunity to go tomorrow."

That also helps Jimmy Howard, whom Mrazek is displacing now at times.

"It gives Howie an opportunity to work with (goalie coach) Jim Bedard, to freshen up."

Mrazek was characteristically matter of fact after the 23-save shutout.

"Most important was the penalty kill, in the front in the second period," he said, nodding to his teammates, who were far better in front of their goalie than in the past two games, when they gave up a total of 11 goals to the Coyotes and Sharks.

"They shoot from everywhere, and guys blocked it."

Indeed, Drew Miller (five) and Luke Glendening (three) combined for eight blocked shots, and the Wings had a total of 10.

Mrazek said he also benefitted greatly from playing with the lead.

"When you are up 3-0 it helps mentally and physically, too, you know?" he said.

"I feel great. We'll see what happens tomorrow. Back-to-back games are different, but I will try to be ready."

Mrazek said that the team was well aware of the Lightning's offensive prowess coming into the game.

In his last start against Tampa Bay on Jan. 29, Mrazek allowed five goals on 15 shots, and was removed after two periods.

"They are No. 1 in the NHL in scoring goals, and I thought we did a great job of boxing out in our zone and cutting down on turnovers. That was huge."

Justin's time

Justin Abdelkader keeps on scoring.

He blew past his 10-goal career high Jan. 7 in Calgary. He became a 20-goal scorer, an NHL standard for "goal scorers," on March 22 against the Blues.

On Saturday he tallied for the fourth time in four games, a goal in each.

And at 7:19 of the second period, it was a big goal, deftly scored.

With Gustav Nyquist, he managed to the turn the play on the Lightning, just as they carried the puck to the center red line. And suddenly, Abdelkader was streaking in alone, fans on their feet, and he beat goalie Ben Bishop top shelf.

Diligent work, speed and good hands.

It adds up to 23 goals and 20 assists this season for the former Spartans star and Muskegon native.

He is tied with Pavel Datsyuk for third on the team in goals, and fifth in points at 43.

"I think as a player I just feel more confident out there," Abdelkader said. "This league is a tough league to come in as a young player."

More ice time over the years, and more time with players like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg helps, too.

"Anytime you see the puck starting to go in it gives you a lot of confidence," he said.

Injury update

Datsyuk returned to the lineup Saturday.

But neither Erik Cole (upper body) nor Riley Sheahan (upper body) will make the trip to Long Island for Sunday's game against the Islanders.

Red Wings at Islanders

Faceoff: 5 pm, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York.

TV/radio: FSD-Plus/97.1, 1270

Outlook: Both teams played in matinee games Saturday, with Wings shutting out the Lightning, 4-0, and the Islanders losing 3-2 to the Ducks. The Wings lost, 2-1, to the Islanders on Dec. 19, and won 4-1 on Jan. 31. Both games were at home. For the season, the Islanders have a plus-19 goal differential, (230-211), and the Wings 15 (216-201).