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Blue Jackets-Red Wings Preview @NHLdotcom
Blue Jackets-Red Wings Preview

GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (12-25-1) at Detroit Red Wings (25-9-3).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Detroit Red Wings appear to be back in form heading into the new year.

They'll try to end 2005 by staying perfect this season against the Columbus Blue Jackets as the Central Division rivals meet for the fourth time.

The Red Wings are 7-1-1 their last nine games and likely will spend 2006 battling the Nashville Predators for the Central Division title. Detroit pushed its winning streak to four games Tuesday with a 4-1 victory at Dallas as Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and two assists.

While Chris Osgood has been solid as a replacement for injured starting goaltender Manny Legace, the 33-year-old Osgood is trying to keep himself in coach Mike Babcock's mind as an option when Legace returns to the team.

"What I've done in the past doesn't mean anything," said Osgood, who has allowed just nine goals his last four starts and is 11-3-3 overall. "I still have something to prove. I want to be here. I want to stay here, and to do that I have to play well."

Osgood has won his last two starts against the Blue Jackets and is 7-4 with a 2.30 goals-against average and .911 save percentage lifetime against them.

Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk has 17 points in 13 lifetime games against the Blue Jackets, but only five points in six home games against them.

Columbus has won a season-high three straight games, most recently a 3-2 win Friday at Chicago. Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev each had a goal and an assist in a three-goal first period for the Blue Jackets, who are enjoying their longest winning streak since a four-game run from March 21-27, 2004.

"We got off to a textbook first period, played the way we wanted," said Blue Jackets goaltender Marc Denis, who made 28 of his 41 saves the final two periods. "Unfortunately for some reason we sat back and it definitely was not the way we wanted to end that game."

Nash ended a three-game pointless drought Friday. Zherdev has had two multi-point games in the winning streak and is two goals shy of matching his rookie total of 13 in the 2003-04 season, accomplished in 57 games.

The Blue Jackets are 2-8-0-1 all-time at Detroit, with the most recent win a 4-1 triumph April 3, 2004.

STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 25 points, 4th place, 28 PB, Central Division. Red Wings - 53 points, 1st place, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Zherdev, 10 goals; David Vyborny, 15 assists and 22 points; Jody Shelley, 78 PIM. Red Wings - Brendan Shanahan, 20 goals; Nicklas Lidstrom, 28 assists; Pavel Datsyuk, 42 points; Chris Chelios, 64 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Blue Jackets - Power play: 11.6 percent (26 for 225), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83 percent (219 for 264), 12th. Red Wings - Power play: 24.9 percent (53 for 213), 1st. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (186 for 220), 7th.

GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (6-14-0, 1 SO, 3.17 GAA); Pascal Leclaire (2-8-1, 0, 3.97). Red Wings - Chris Osgood (11-3-3, 0, 2.85); G Joey MacDonald (no appearances).

SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 20, Red Wings, 4-3 (SO). At Detroit, Datsyuk and Jason Williams beat Leclaire in the first two rounds of the shootout while Osgood denied Nash and former teammate Sergei Fedorov in the last two rounds.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 4-14-1 on the road; Red Wings - 12-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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