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Detroit — Steven Stamkos has been shooting well and making some plays.

But look at the scoresheet, and the Lightning star's name is noticeably absent.

Other than two assists in three games in the series against the Red Wings, the NHL's second-leading goal scorer (43) is without a goal.

The reason? The Red Wings defense.

"We know he's really skilled and fast," Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. "We have to try to take away his speed and time out there and all of us have done a good job out there.

"We know he's always a dangerous threat, especially in the offensive zone, and he has a real good shot."

The Stamkos line (Alex Killorn and Ryan Callahan) controlled the puck the first two games in Tampa when matched primarily against the Riley Sheahan line (Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist).

But in Detroit, Stamkos faced the Pavel Datsyuk line (Tatar and Darren Helm) and found life more challenging.

Stamkos had two shots, was minus-1, and had two penalties in 16 minutes, 47 seconds in Game 3.

"He's real good offensively, he can make a lot of damage," Datsyuk said. "It's nice to make him work in the defensive zone."

Stamkos acknowledged Datsyuk remains one of the elite defenders in the NHL.

"He plays well at both ends," Stamkos said. "He's a smart player and obviously we have to be aware of those guys on the ice. For the most part there wasn't many scoring chances (allowed), we just didn't do much on the other end of the puck (offensively)."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper, however, remains confident that as a player who has excelled over numerous 82-game seasons, Stamkos isn't going to be quiet for long.

"You see a close game and he happens not to score, the alarm goes off, 'What's wrong with Stammer,'" Cooper said. "He's had a couple of good looks in this series. If you go down the list of some of our players who haven't scored, he's had a couple of helpers (assists). These guys that have done it on numerous occasions, there's a little more weight on their shoulders.

"Does Stammer wish he has a goal or two in this series? For sure. Do I think Detroit will keep him down the whole series? I don't. It's just a matter of time."