Red Wings vs. Lightning: Game 3 keys

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Clean up defense

The coverage mistakes in Game 2 were glaring, and each seemingly resulted in a Tampa Bay goal or scoring chance.

And with that, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has made lineup changes — Justin Abdelkader returns at a wing and Brendan Smith replaces Alexey Marchenko (minus-2 in Game 2) on defense.

Smith has had issues defensively, but did form a solid pairing with Marek Zidlicky.

One player to watch is Jonathan Ericsson (lower body), whose ability to defend the speedy Lightning could be a factor.

Home ice

Being back at Joe Louis Arena should be a benefit, right?

The Red Wings ended the regular season on a 5-5-2 run at home, and during last season's playoffs, went 0-2.

Still, the Red Wings believe they have an advantage with a roaring Joe Louis Arena crowd.

"It's the best place to play during the playoffs, in front of our fans," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "It's loud and the energy is high. This is what you look forward to in the playoffs, playing at the Joe."

The Lightning was average on the road at 18-16-7, the weakest road mark among the 16 playoff teams.

Youth served

The young forwards who are so important to the success of the Red Wings are as cold as they were last season against the Bruins.

Tomas Tatar scored a late goal in Game 2 (Gustav Nyquist assist), but the line of Tatar, Nyquist and Riley Sheahan wasn't effective either game (Sheahan has no points in seven career playoff games, Nyquist has no goals in his last 11 playoff games).

All three will be on separate lines Tuesday night — Nyquist with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader, and Tatar with Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm. Sheahan will center Joakim Andersson and Tomas Jurco.

Babcock said the Red Wings have been a two-line team, and "that's not enough," he said.

Net results

Petr Mrazek was outstanding in Game 1. He was pulled in Game 2.

Which Mrazek will show up for Game 3?

Though he has been pulled four times this season, Mrazek has responded, going 3-0-1 in games following his benching.

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

'Get going'

Coach Mike Babcock hasn't been pleased with his team's competitiveness the first two games.

"We have a lot more to give," he said. "We need everyone on deck. We can't have one (game) on and one (game) off. We need to get going."

Getting Brendan Smith and Justin Abdelkader back should help considerably.

But, Babcock wants to see his forwards get to the net.

"The fourth lines and the competitive guys are scoring goals every night," he said. "Why are (the Lightning) scoring goals? They're not on the outside, they're inside and they're getting there."