Mrazek stays positive, will start Game 3

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Tampa Bay — After a brilliant Game 1 of the playoffs, Petr Mrazek had a more forgettable Game 2.

Mrazek was pulled after two periods in Saturday's 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay, although it was hardly his fault.

Mrazek stopped 14 of the 18 shots he saw but received precious little help as the Lightning capitalized on Red Wings defensive mistakes.

"We played so much better from the start," said Mrazek, who will remain the Red Wings' starting goaltender Tuesday in Game 3, coach Mike Babcock said. "We had a lot more chances to score. We did way better job today than Thursday."

But the defensive breakdowns were more glaring and this time, Mrazek wasn't able to erase the mistakes.

"You have to give your goalie a chance," Babcock said. "You can't make those kind of mistakes and think the goalie will make those saves.

"If you give him a chance to battle, he'll battle for you but today we didn't make lots of them but we made them enough that they were able to bury them."

Mrazek wasn't happy allowing a breakaway goal to Tyler Johnson with 38 seconds left in the second period, giving the Lightning a 4-0 lead, and felt Alex Killorn's goal early in the period, on which Killorn jammed the puck past Mrazek on a rebound giving Tampa a 2-0 lead, were ones he had to stop.

"I would take some back," Mrazek said of the goals allowed.

But Mrazek was pleased to get start Tuesday, and said he'll remain on an even keel in these games.

"It's always nice to play at home, and it's better to have won one than zero on the road," Mrazek said. "Being 1-1 is good (going back for) home games.

"It's just a hockey game. It doesn't matter if it's regular season game or playoff game, I wouldn't see it any different between those games."

Teammates weren't worried about Mrazek's confidence or ability to bounce back in Game 3.

"That's just the bounces, a couple of bad bounces," Tomas Tatar said. "He played real strong in the first game. We're not worried about our goaltending. We just have to help them out and score more goals."


They would have preferred to have played better hockey overall, but the Red Wings are heading home for Game 3 tied and have home-ice advantage.

For that, they're satisfied.

"Our goalie was real good in Game 1 and their goalie (Ben Bishop) was real good in Game 2," said Babcock, "and here we are. We're going home."

There were stretches, particularly in the second period, when the Red Wings felt they had the upper hand and played the type of hockey they want to play.

They feel they can build on that momentum.

"It's a long series and tied 1-1 and we're going home," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "It was better today than the first one. We stole the first game here and we worked ourselves into this series.

"Even though we lost (Saturday) we look forward to get in front of our own fans."

Said Tatar: "This is how it goes in hockey. It's not an easy game. We didn't play real good last game and we ended up winning. Today we played solid but we couldn't score a goal.

"They scored a power-play goal, it got them going, and we couldn't stop them."

Babcock's future

Babcock brushed off any speculation about his future, saying that will be looked over once the Red Wings' season ends.

"We can talk about this every time I come to the podium. It's a waste of time," Babcock said. "It's going to be the same answer: I am coaching in Detroit, I love coaching in Detroit, we have a game today, we would like to win."

Babcock's contract expires July 1 and he's free to negotiate with any team in need of a coach.

Toronto, Buffalo and Philadelphia have head coaching openings, with several more teams expected to fire coaches after the first round of the playoffs.

Babcock could generate a record salary for a head coach of approximately $5 million per season, which could be more than the Red Wings are willing to pay.

The coaching speculation is beginning to build as the playoffs progress, but Red Wings players say it's not a big factor.

"We're not focusing on that," Zetterberg said. "We're focused on winning games right now. It's the same thing for him as it would be for the player (who is a free agent). If you're a free agent, you think about it a little more yourself (than anyone else).

"But in this room, we're focused on winning games and not who is a free agent."

Said Kronwall: "Babs did a good job in the beginning of the season, he talked about it (with the media) and said it's not going to be an obstacle. He's a professional and a proud guy. He's doing everything he possibly can to get this team ready."

Ice chips

Babcock made no changes in the lineup from Game 1. Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl, Teemu Pulkkinen and Justin Abdelkader (hand) were scratches.

Babcock did say after Game 2 Abdelkader would be ready to play Tuesday.

… The Red Wings were 0-for-4 on the power play but liked the looks they had.

"We had some real good opportunities but it hit Bishop instead of missing him," Babcock said. "That's the way it goes sometimes."