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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, December 17th (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (11-13-9) at Detroit Red Wings (17-11-5), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Detroit Red Wings will try to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games when they welcome the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning for an interconference clash at Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings have won three straight and four of their last five games, but they are still third in the Central, a division they have been the champion of in each of the last eight seasons.

This is the third time this season that Detroit has won three games in a row, but the defending Western Conference champs last had a four-game winning streak from March 14-20 of last season.

The Red Wings have won their last three games by identical 3-2 scores. The first two victories in that stretch came in overtime, while Monday's home victory over Phoenix was a regulation triumph. Derek Meech scored the eventual game-winning goal early in the second period and Detroit held on for the win.

Patrick Eaves and Kris Newbury, who was recalled from Grand Rapids of the AHL earlier on Monday, also tallied for the Red Wings. Jimmy Howard turned aside 30-of-32 shots, including all 11 in the third period for Detroit.

"We need secondary production besides our top two lines," Howard said. "We need the third and fourth lines to get in there and chip away for us. Guy like [Newbury], first game, first shot, first goal for the Red Wings. That's great. Guys did a great job out there tonight battling."

Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson left the game in the first period with an apparent knee injury and did not return. He is expected to miss two weeks of action and Doug Janik has been recalled from Grand Rapids to take Ericsson's spot on the roster.

Detroit forward Darren Helm is questionable for tonight after missing the last game with a wrist injury.

Tonight marks the end of a two-game homestand for the Red Wings, who are 10-6-2 as the host this year.

Meanwhile, the Lightning come into tonight having lost a season-high five straight and nine of their last 10 games. Their most recent setback came Tuesday in Nashville as the Predators breezed to a 7-4 win.

Tampa Bay actually led 2-1 after the first period of Tuesday's game, but the Predators took control of the contest by scoring five unanswered goals in the second stanza.

Vincent Lecavalier posted two goals and one assist for the Lightning. Steven Stamkos and Kurtis Foster also scored for Tampa, which saw Mike Smith pick up the loss in relief after yielding three goals on 13 shots. Starter Antero Niittymaki allowed four goals on 14 shots through 32-plus minutes.

"I think we have to get better sealing off our net," said Lightning head coach Rich Tocchet. "There are two or three times where we didn't seal."

Tampa Bay is 0-2-1 so far on a six-game road trip and is just 4-9-5 as the visiting club this year.

Detroit posted a 4-3 road win over the Lightning in the only meeting between the clubs last year. The Red Wings have four wins and a tie in the last five encounters between the clubs. Tampa Bay is 0-8 with a tie in its last nine trips to the Motor City.

12/17 10:46:39 ET

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