Main task for Wings: Stop Lightning offense

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Somehow, the Red Wings are going to have to control the Lightning's offensive ability if they hope to advance.

And that's not going to be easy.

No team in the NHL scores like the Lightning, which led the league in scoring (3.16 goals) behind the dynamic Steven Stamkos (43 goals).

But Stamkos is from from a one-man wrecking crew.

The Lighting has a deep, versatile and talented forward corps that seems to come at opponents in waves.

"When they get their chances, they're real effective," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "They're real skilled, real good offensively."

The Red Wings, though, had one successful run against the Lightning — a 4-0 victory on March 28.

Petr Mrazek earned the shutout that day, but wasn't overly worked — the Lightning had 23 shots.

But the Red Wings generally made life miserable for the Lightning defense, forcing its forwards to work on the defensive end.

"We have to take advantage of having them in their end," Zetterberg said. "We have to play (with a) good structure, get the puck in and deep, and get the puck through the neutral zone.

"If you turn the puck over, they're real dangerous. We have to wear down their defense."

There also were glimpses of the Red Wings shutting down teams the final week of the season.

They slowed the Canadiens, losing in overtime, and limited the effectiveness of the Hurricanes in a season-ending 2-0 victory.

"We just need to keep playing that way," defenseman Nikas Kronwall said. "We did a lot of good things against Montreal, as well, but against Carolina especially, the guys were playing really well defensively.

"Mrazek played the puck when he needed to, and most of the pucks he was able to see because of good boxouts and there were a lot of long shots from the forwards."

While Stamkos is a premier goal scorer, a key in the series could be containing the second line of Tyler Johnson (72 points) Nikita Kucherov (28 goals) and Ondrej Palat (47 assists), generally regarded as the best second line in the NHL.

"They're a talened group that comes at you with speed," coach Mike Babcock said. "They have lots of players and done a great job of retooling their roster. It's not by accident they've had a good year."