Detroit -- Danny DeKeyser and Kyle Quincey were the most consistent defensive pairing for the Red Wings this season.
But when the postseason began, they were split up to accommodate Alexey Marchenko, who replaced Brendan Smith.
The result was a 1-1 series tie, and the Lightning taking advantage of crucial defensive mistakes by the Red Wings.
DeKeyser and Quincey have been reunited since Game 3, and the Red Wings have been more effective and have solidified the defense.
"We feel comfortable together," Quincey said. "I know where he is all the time and that comes with having good chemistry.
"We've been playing together for over 100 games. It's natural."
DeKeyser also has a comfort level with Quincey on the other side.
"We have a lot of good chemistry," DeKeyser said. "We work well together. We kind of make good reads off each other, and know for the most part, what the other guy is thinking."
Give and take
Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader's hit on Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison on March 28 forced Garrison out of the lineup until last week's Game 4.
So maybe it wasn't too surprising to see Garrison finish a check while Abdelkader was entangled with Stamkos, leaving Abdelkader shaken.
"If you're going to give out the hits, you've got to be able to take the hits, too," Abdelkader said. "I wasn't really prepared, I didn't really see that coming. I was in a bad position because I was going down from the hook, so I couldn't defend myself.
"But (Garrison) plays the game hard and you have to be prepared when those guys are on the ice."
Landon Ferraro and Petr Mrazek were called up from Grand Rapids toward the end of the season and have played big roles during the playoffs.
They follow Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Gustav Nyquist and Jonathan Ericsson, among others, as late-season additions who helped the Red Wings in previous years.
"It says a lot about them as players, but it says something about development," coach Mike Babcock said. "We keep our guys (in the minors) a long time."
... Stamkos, on speculation he's playing through an injury: "Because I'm not scoring, people think you're injured. That's not the case. I feel great. Everyone going through some bumps and bruises this time (of year). But if I had a couple of goals, nobody would ask me if I was injured."