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Detroit — After winning the Stanley Cup in 2002, Pavel Datsyuk wasn't sure how long he'd play in the NHL or how many trophies he'd win.

For a kid out of Russia, it was way too much to worry about.

"When I came here, I didn't think too far (ahead)," said Datsyuk, 36. "My mind is too small to think too far. I just enjoy year to year and I'm happy where I am now."

Where Datsyuk is now is a key player for the Red Wings, who lead the Lightning, 2-1, wth Game 4 Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.

And, he's a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy (gentlemanly play, sportsmanship).

Datsyuk has won the Lady Byng four consecutive times (2006-09).

"It's nice to be back on track," said Datsyuk, who was mainly free of the injuries that marred last season. "I like to be nominated for anything. Lady Byng is important to me. It's the best trophy ever."

This season, while being more than a point-per-game player (65 points in 63 games), Datsyuk had eight penalty minutes.

"It's a real honor to be around him," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "He's a good man, a good teammate, he does it right and leads by example."

Said Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg: "If you look over the years he's played in this league, he probably could be nominated every year and have a chance of winning every year. He's a special player."

Ferraro on the rise

Forwards Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader essentially became regulars after starring in the playoffs.

Is Landon Ferraro on the same path?

Ferraro was called up for the regular-season finale, played well, and because of the matchup against Tampa Bay, Babcock felt his speed and tenacity would be a good fit.

"He can shoot the puck, he's physical and he plays fast," Babcock said. "Because they're such a quick team, we needed speed and he's a guy that gives us speed."

Lightning lament effort

Time and again it was the same refrain in the Lightning locker room Wednesday: the Game 3 loss wasn't their best effort.

"We didn't play our best game," said goaltender Ben Bishop, who stopped 18 of 20 shots. "We all know that. It's just a matter of getting back to playing how we did the first two games."

The first two games, the Red Wings talked often about turning the puck over and giving the Lightning too many quality scoring chances.

After Game 3, it was the Lightning that felt it made life easier for the Red Wings.

"We turned the puck over on numerous occasions," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We didn't make them play all 200 feet. We made the game easier for them."

Road woes

The fact the Lightning has been average much of the season on the road is again coming to light after Tuesday's loss.

The Lightning has the weakest road record of the 16 playoffs teams (18-16-7).

Cooper believes experience is a big factor for road success in the playoffs.

"Especially in the playoffs you have to have some experience and I'm not sure it's an age thing, but a games-played thing, or environment thing," Cooper said.

Ice chips

Babcock, on the Red Wings penalty kill, which has the Lightning 0-for-13: "We're on the penalty kill way too much. We have to stay out of the box ... To test it each night with six or seven is crazy. Three would be enough."

... Bishop, on the noisy, rambunctious Game 3 Joe Louis Arena crowd: "It takes you back to the college days."

… Cooper said there would be no lineup changes entering tonight's Game 4. Defenseman Jason Garrison (upper body), who has missed the entire series, is day-to-day.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tkulfan

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