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Blues-Red Wings Preview @NHLdotcom
Blues-Red Wings Preview

GAME: St. Louis Blues (10-23-5) at Detroit Red Wings (26-10-3).

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

The Detroit Red Wings expect to get their starting goaltender back just in time to face a team he usually defeats.

Manny Legace has not played since Nov. 25 due to a sprained left knee, but he will likely get the start as the Red Wings host the St. Louis Blues.

Legace is 6-2-2 with a 1.81 goals-against average and .927 save percentage lifetime against the Blues. Among active goalies with at least 10 starts against St. Louis, only Dallas' Marty Turco (1.60) has a lower GAA.

Chris Osgood played well in his teammate's absence, going 9-2-1 since Legace's injury. But Osgood allowed two goals in the first seven minutes of Tuesday's 4-2 defeat against Minnesota, and the Red Wings never caught up.

"I just think our desperation at the start of the game was totally different than at the end," said Red Wings' coach Mike Babcock. "You have to be as urgent at the start of the game as you are at the end."

Tomas Holmstrom scored both Detroit goals Tuesday as the Red Wings' five-game winning streak ended. He has two goals and four assists in four games this season against the Blues.

Legace and the Red Wings lost their last meeting with the Blues, 3-2 on Nov. 19 at Joe Louis Arena. In that game, former Red Wing Mike Sillinger scored the go-ahead goal.

"I still have a lot of ties here in Detroit," said Sillinger following that game. "You kind of always want to beat the team that drafted you."

Sillinger, whom the Red Wings selected 11th overall in the 1989 draft, has three goals and four assists in his last three games, including a pair of assists in Wednesday night's 4-3 loss to Nashville.

St. Louis failed Wednesday in its attempt to earn points in a season-high three consecutive games. The Predators scored on two of their first five shots against Blues goalie Curtis Sanford.

"Anytime you think you're playing well and that it's no big deal, it's going to come easy, it doesn't," Sillinger said. "They lost four in a row and they were ready to be beaten again and we gave them the first two goals -- 'here you go."'

The Blues are playing on consecutive days for the ninth time this season. St. Louis has lost all eight times on the second half of games on back-to-back days.

This game opens a five-game road trip for the Blues, who play seven of their next eight contests away from the Savvis Center.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 4): Blues - 25 points, 4th place (tied), 30 PB, Central Division. Red Wings - 55 points, 1st place, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Sillinger, 14 goals; Doug Weight, 26 assists and 35 points; Jamal Mayers, 88 PIM. Red Wings - Brendan Shanahan, 20 goals; Nicklas Lidstrom, 30 assists; Pavel Datsyuk, 44 points; Chris Chelios, 64 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 4): Blues - Power play: 15.3 percent (40 for 262), 24th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.9 percent (189 for 232), tied for 19th. Red Wings - Power play: 24.8 percent (56 for 226), 1st. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (195 for 229), 3rd.

GOALTENDERS: Blues - Sanford (4-6-1, 2 SO, 2.74 GAA); Jason Bacashihua (3-3-0, 0, 3.64). Red Wings - Legace (13-4-0, 2, 2.21); Osgood (12-4-3, 0, 2.81).

SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 3-1.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 19, Blues 3-2. At Detroit, Sanford made 12 of his 32 saves in the third period for the Blues, while Legace made 27 saves for the Red Wings.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 5-10-2 on the road; Red Wings - 13-6-1 at home.

Associated Press
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