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Canucks continue marathon trip in Detroit

by John Kreiser

CANUCKS (38-22-2) at RED WINGS (29-21-12)

Last 10 -- Vancouver 6-4-0; Detroit 4-3-3

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the third time this season -- but the first since Nov. 12. Detroit won 5-4 at Vancouver on Oct. 27 and 3-1 at home in the return match.

Big story -- The Canucks can see the light at the end of the road trip. This is Game 10 of Vancouver's 14-game Olympic-induced trip -- and so far, the Canucks are holding their own. Tuesday's 4-3 OT win at Columbus gave Vancouver a 5-4-0 record so far. The Wings are home for the first time since the Olympic break and come back to the MotorCity off a 3-2 win at Colorado on Monday.

Team Scope:

Canucks -- Roberto Luongo has traded the red and white of Team Canada for the blue, green and white of the Canucks after winning the Olympic gold medal on Sunday. He allowed the tying goal with 24.4 seconds left in regulation, but made 34 saves as Canada beat the United States 3-2 in OT for the gold medal.

"You work your whole life for a moment like this and it's great to get rewarded," said Luongo, who has never gotten beyond the second round of the NHL playoffs. "There are so many thoughts going through my head, thinking about so many people that helped me out along the way."

Red Wings -- Mike Babcock put Luongo in the net for Canada on Sunday in hopes of winning the gold medal. Now he'll be on the other bench, hoping his Wings can put enough pucks past him to go home with two points.

Time is starting to run short for the Wings, who enter the day in the last playoff berth in the West, one point ahead of Calgary.

"We know there's not much time left and we need to make a push," said rookie goalie Jimmy Howard, who has started Detroit's last nine games. "We feel like all we have to do is get into the playoffs and we'll be a dangerous team. No one's going to want to face us.

Who's hot -- Vancouver's Pavol Demitra, the top scorer at the Olympics, had a goal on Tuesday and is 2-2-4 in his last five games after missing most of the season with injuries. … Tomas Holmstrom had a goal and a pair of assists for Detroit on Monday in his return from a knee injury.

Injury report -- Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa should return from a lacerated ankle tendon at some point during the trip. There's no word when another defenseman, Willie Mitchell (concussion), will be back. … The Wings are getting healthy. Defenseman Andres Lilja returned Monday after missing a year with a concussion. Holmstrom (knee) also returned Monday.

Stat pack -- The Canucks won Tuesday in Columbus after trailing 3-2 through two periods. They improved to 8-15-1 when entering the final 20 minutes on the wrong end of the score.

Puck drop -- The extra day of rest should help Luongo after he played four games in six days at the Vancouver Games. But the Wings are the more desperate team -- they're not used to having to scramble for a playoff berth at this time of year, and every point is a must now.

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