Wings vow to take it one game at a time

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Matt Taormina practices at  Amalie Arena last week.

Tampa, Fla. – It’s a cliché, yes, but it makes all the sense in the world considering the Red Wings’ predicament.

They need to focus one game, Thursday night in Game 5 (7 p.m., FSD, 97.1 FM), in their Eastern Conference playoff series against the Lightning.

If they want to continue their season, the Red Wings have to beat Tampa Bay three consecutive times, but one at a time beginning Thursday night.

“We have to win one hockey game,” coach Jeff Blashill said Thursday morning. “One thing about clichés, there’s probably a reason they’re there. It’s true. The goal at the beginning of the series was to win four (games). We’ve won one, and now we have to win another one, and that’s entirely our focus.”

The accomplish this, the Red Wings need to improve their special teams, which bottomed out in Game 4.

The power play is 1-for-21 (4.8 percent) in the playoffs, ranking last of all 16 playoff teams. The penalty kill was playing well until allowing three Tampa Bay power-play goals in Game 4.

But if they can improve the special teams, the Red Wings like the way they’ve played at even strength.

“We’re happy with the way we’ve played five-on-five,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “When we’re playing five-on-five with this team, we feel pretty comfortable that we could be heading back to Detroit.”

Said forward Henrik Zetterberg: “It’s been a pretty even series. They have been better on special teams. We just have to get back to basics.”

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Big homecoming

It was an unforgettable moment for Lightning defenseman Matt Taormina of Romeo in Game 4.

It was his first career playoff game at Joe Louis Arena and only second overall – after playing most of his youth career at The Joe while in the Little Caesars program.

“You get a lot of time just sitting around and just kind of stare up, and you’re used to being in the stands and seeing all the games,” said Taormina, who at one point in his youth career played with teammate Erik Condra (Trenton) for the Honeybaked program before moving over to Belle Tire and Little Caesars. “You kind of take it all in.”

Twitter @tkulfan