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Blackhawks-Red Wings Preview

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Blackhawks-Red Wings Preview

GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (3-6-0) at Detroit Red Wings (9-1-0).

TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EDT.

When the Chicago Blackhawks signed Nikolai Khabibulin, the team was expecting him to play like he did while leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup.

It's Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace, however, that is putting up solid numbers.

Legace looks to lead Detroit to its seventh straight win when it plays the first of three straight games against Khabibulin and the struggling Blackhawks.

Legace has played all 10 games for the Red Wings, going 9-1 with a 1.79 goals-against average. He was named the NHL's defensive player of the week on Monday.

His nine wins are a franchise record for October, and with one more victory, he will enter the NHL record books as the winningest goaltender in October.

"No pressure," he said with a laugh when told of the record. Then he asked who held the previous mark and was told Vancouver's Kirk McLean, Toronto's Felix Potvin and Philadelphia's Dominic Roussel.

"Good company to be in," Legace said with a grin.

Legace has recorded two shutouts during the six-game winning streak, Detroit's longest since also winning six in a row in 2002-03. His solid play, though, isn't the only reason the team has been winning.

The Red Wings have scored an NHL-leading 42 goals, including six each in their last two games. Detroit beat Columbus 6-0 on Saturday and then defeated the Blue Jackets 6-2 on Monday.

Khabibulin has yet to play up to the expectations he set when he won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in the 2003-04 season, when had a 2.33 GAA and .910 save percentage.

This season, Khabibulin has only three wins with a 3.76 GAA and .843 save percentage.

The Blackhawks have lost three of their last four games entering this three-game stretch against their longtime rivals. This is the 674th regular-season meeting between these teams, with the Red Wings owning a 335-250-84-4 advantage.

After this contest, the teams play Saturday in Chicago before meeting in Detroit again on Tuesday.

The Blackhawks have lost four straight games in Detroit.

STANDINGS: Blackhawks - 6 points, 3rd place (tied), 12 PB, Central Division. Red Wings - 18 points, 1st place, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Pavel Vorobiev, 5 goals; Tyler Arnason, 7 assists; Vorobiev and Arnason, 10 points; Todd Simpson, 28 PIM. Red Wings - Pavel Datsyuk, 7 goals; Jason Williams, 10 assists; Williams and Henrik Zetterberg, 13 points; Brendan Shanahan, 21 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Blackhawks - Power play: 14.9 percent (10 for 67), 21st in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.0 percent (60 for 75), 21st. Red Wings - Power play: 27.2 percent (18 for 66), 2nd. Penalty killing: 92.0 percent (58 for 63), 3rd.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Khabibulin (3-5-0, 3.76 GAA); Craig Anderson (0-1-0, 4.14). Red Wings - Legace (9-1-0, 2 SO, 1.79).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 4-2.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 14, 2004; Red Wings, 4-2. At Detroit, four different Red Wings scored, and Legace stopped 22 of 24 shots.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 1-4-0 on the road; Red Wings - 4-1-0 at home.


Associated Press
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