Canucks-Red Wings Preview
GAME: Vancouver Canucks (28-17-5) at Detroit Red Wings (32-13-4).
TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
After sitting alone atop the Western Conference for most of the season, the Detroit Red Wings have slipped into a tie following two straight losses.
The Red Wings try to avoid dropping three in a row for the first time since mid November when they host the Vancouver Canucks, who have also lost two straight.
Detroit fell 3-2 to Nashville on Monday night - a makeup game for the Nov. 21 contest when Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer collapsed on the bench - and lost 2-1 in overtime to the Predators on Tuesday night.
Those defeats enabled Nashville to tie Detroit atop the conference and Central Division with 68 points.
Detroit was able to capitalize on only three of 17 power-play chances in the both losses, when defenseman Mathieu Schneider scored his 16th goal of the season with a two-man advantage in the first period Tuesday.
The Red Wings lead the NHL in power-play percentage, converting 24.7 percent of their opportunities.
"It's frustrating. We weren't able to execute around the net," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
Schneider leads NHL defensemen in goals and became the first at his position to score in four straight games since Atlanta's Jaroslav Modry did it while with Los Angeles in 2002-03.
The Red Wings had a four-game winning streak before the two losses to the Predators.
The Canucks have won seven of their past 10, but have struggled at the beginning of a season-high seven-game road trip. They were shut out by the St. Louis Blues on Monday before losing 6-5 to Columbus Tuesday.
Vancouver is 18-3-3 at home but only 10-14-2 on the road.
"It's a difficult way to play, no matter who you're playing against," Vancouver coach Marc Crawford said after the loss to Columbus. "We got ourselves back in to the game on a couple of occasions after a slow start. We did do some good things to generate (offense), unfortunately it didn't end up the way we would have liked.
"Anytime you score five goals, that's usually enough to win."
Defenseman Ed Jovanovski reinjured his groin in the first period Tuesday and did not return. It was his second game back after missing 11 with the injury.
Vancouver has won four of the past five meetings with Detroit, including both matchups this season.
STANDINGS: Canucks - 61 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Northwest Division. Red Wings - 68 points, 1st place (tied), Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Markus Naslund, 23 goals and 54 points; Henrik Sedin, 34 assists; Todd Bertuzzi, 80 PIM. Red Wings - Henrik Zetterberg and Brendan Shanahan, 22 goals; Pavel Datsyuk, 39 assists and 58 points; Chris Chelios, 78 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Canucks - Power play: 19.6 percent (65 for 332), 7th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent (252 for 310), 18th. Red Wings - Power play: 24.7 percent (71 for 287), 1st. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (242 for 284), 3rd.
GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Alex Auld (20-12-3, 2.80 GAA); Maxime Ouellet (0-2-1, 4.00). Red Wings - Manny Legace (18-6-1, 3 SO, 2.17); Chris Osgood (13-5-3, 1, 2.86).
SEASON SERIES: Canucks, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 13; Canucks, 4-1. At Vancouver, British Columbia, Bertuzzi recorded his fourth career hat trick for the Canucks.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 10-14-2 on the road; Red Wings - 16-8-2 at home.