(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning emerge from a three-day break to host the Detroit Red Wings, as they continue a six-game homestand in Friday's Atlantic Division battle from Amalie Arena.
The Lightning have split the first two tilts of this homestand, but have been idle since Monday's 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. That win pulled Tampa even with Montreal for the top spot in the Atlantic, but the Canadiens have since won two games to move four ahead of the Bolts. The Habs are idle on Friday.
Detroit, meanwhile, is sitting third in the Atlantic, six points in back of the Lightning and four in front of fourth-place Boston.
Steven Stamkos led the way in the win over the Habs, scoring twice to give him 39 goals on the season. Stamkos made it a 2-0 game with an unassisted goal late in the first period and added an empty-netter with a little over a minute remaining in the important contest.
Valtteri Filppula and Victor Hedman also scored as the Lightning, who beat the Canadiens for the fourth time this season. The division rivals will meet once more in the regular season when Tampa visits the Bell Centre on March 30.
Ben Bishop made 32 saves for Monday's win, He is expected to start again tonight and owns a 6-1-0 record and 1.60 goals against average in his career versus the Red Wings.
The win over the Habs pushed Tampa's spectacular home record this season to 27-7-1.
Detroit has lost both meetings against the Lightning this season and was slammed 5-1 when the clubs met last on Jan. 29. Cedric Paquette, who is currently sidelined with an upper-body injury, had a hat trick to lead the home team to the easy victory.
Bishop turned aside 27-of-28 shots to give the Bolts their sixth win in the past seven meetings with Detroit. The Wings have lost three straight in Central Florida.
Detroit also enters Friday having dropped three of four and five of its last seven overall. The Red Wings posted a 5-1 win in Pittsburgh on Saturday but were handed a 3-1 setback Thursday evening at Florida.
After a scoreless first, the Panthers scored twice in the second period before taking a 3-0 lead early in the third. Erik Cole would score Detroit's only goal with 9:53 remaining in regulation.
Petr Mrazek gave up three goals on 32 shots in the loss, which came without the services of forward Pavel Datsyuk. The Russian star also will miss tonight's game with a lower-body injury.
"You've got to find ways to win games," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
The club fell to 1-2-0 on a four-game road trip that wraps tonight. The swing began with a 7-2 loss in Philadelphia before the Red Wings rebounded with the rout in Pittsburgh.
Jimmy Howard will get the call in net tonight. Detroit's No. 1 netminder is 3-1-2 with a 2.12 GAA in six lifetime starts against the Lightning.