RED WINGS (13-3-2) at THRASHERS (9-9-3)
TV -- FS-Detroit+ (HD), SportSouth (HD)
Last 10 -- Detroit 8-1-1; Atlanta 4-5-1
Season series -- This will be the first and only matchup of the 2010-11 season between the team. They met last November in what became a 2-0 Thrashers victory in Detroit. Nik Antropov and Slava Kozlov scored for Atlanta, while Ondrej Pavelec stopped 40 shots to shut out the Red Wings.
Big story -- Two teams that rarely see each other will be looking to add to their recent success when they meet at Philips Arena, The Thrashers have won back-to-back games, beating Washington 5-0 on Friday and the New York Islanders 2-1 in overtime on Sunday. The Wings have also been off since Sunday, when they rallied from a 4-2 third-period deficit to beat Calgary 5-4 in overtime.
Red Wings -- One of the League's hottest teams, the Red Wings enter this game having won seven of their previous nine games, including the come-from-behind overtime effort against the Flames. The Wings are hitting the road after a 5-0-1 homestand that was marred only by an overtime loss to Minnesota last Friday. But five of the next six games, beginning with the date with the Thrashers, will be on the road.
That's what made the comeback win against Calgary so important.
"It felt good to come back. We've been behind a few games this year and found a way to turn it around," center Henrik Zetterberg said after Sunday's win. "It's nice when it happens."
Thrashers -- Alex Burmistrov, the Thrashers' top pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, has played with a maturity that belies his 19 years. He's even leading the NHL in drawing penalties from opposing players. It will be interesting to see how he fares against the Wings, because Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk is his idol.
"Datsyuk is my favorite player," he said after the win against the Islanders. "He's amazing and I watch him all the time. When we play against him and I'm not on the ice I will just watch how this guy plays. Enjoy it, and learn."
Who's hot -- The Wings are getting a lot of offense from their blue line. Brian Rafalski was the NHL's Third Star last week after piling up 7 assists in three games. Nicklas Lidstrom has 20 points in his first 18 games -- pretty impressive for a 40-year-old. … Atlanta defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, after failing to earn points in three consecutive games, has bounced back with two solid efforts, including the game-winning OT goal against the Islanders. He's tied for the lead with four winners.
"He wants to be a difference maker all the time," coach Craig Ramsay said of Byfuglien following the win against the Isles.
Injury report -- Detroit is still without goalie Chris Osgood (groin) and center Kris Draper (abdominal surgery). Daniel Cleary sat out Tuesday's practice with an upper-body injury, though the Wings say resting him was just a precaution. … Atlanta forward Fredrik Modin (upper body) hasn't played or practiced since being injured against Pittsburgh on Nov. 13. Forward Bryan Little was hit by a shot in Sunday's game and sat out Tuesday's practice.
Stat pack -- Ondrej Pavelec has taken over as the No. 1 goalie in Atlanta and shows no signs of giving up the job. Pavelec has stopped 104 of the last 108 shots he's faced for a .963 save percentage. He's second in the NHL with a .939 save percentage, trailing only Boston's Tim Thomas (.954). Pavelec's 1.93 goals-against average is third in the League. He got the shutout against the Wings last year in his only appearance against them.
Puck drop -- The Thrashers have had surprising success against the Wings since 2005. They've won three of the last five meetings after going 0-5-2 in the first seven. The Thrashers appear to be buying into new coach Craig Ramsay's system, and will try to use it to extend their winning streak to three games.