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Canucks, Red Wings put win streaks on the line

by Brian Hunter
RED WINGS (8-2-1) at CANUCKS (7-3-2)


Last 10:
Detroit 7-2-1; Vancouver 6-3-1

Season Series:
First of four meetings on the 2010-11 schedule. Detroit came away with three wins last season, including a 4-3 win in the most recent matchup, March 20 in Vancouver, with Henrik Zetterberg scoring with less than a second remaining in overtime. Zetterberg led all scorers in the series with 3 goals.

Big Story: Division leaders clash in the Pacific Northwest. The Red Wings leaped over the idle Blues and Blue Jackets into first place in the Central with a 3-1 win over the Oilers on Friday, their third in a row. The Canucks are on a five-game winning streak that has them sitting atop the Northwest.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: The goalies were the story Friday night in Edmonton, and Jimmy Howard stopped two more pucks than Nikolai Khabibulin to give Detroit a hard-fought victory in the middle game of its trip through Western Canada. Valtteri Filppula snapped a second-period tie with a power-play goal as the Red Wings held off the plucky Oilers.

"I see that team being real competitive in a couple of years," said Danny Cleary, who factored into all three Detroit goals, including an empty-netter in the final minute. "Coming into a building like this with a young team that's really exuberant and high-flying, our goal was to try to slow down their speed. We know how to protect leads. We know how to win on the road."

Canucks: A pair of victories during Vancouver's current streak have come at the expense of Colorado, including Thursday's 3-1 win in Denver that saw backup goalie Corey Schneider run his record to 3-0-0 with an 0.90 goals-against average that ranks second in the NHL and a .969 save percentage that leads the League. Schneider was backed by power-play goals from Ryan Kesler, Henrik Sedin and Raffi Torres.

"He makes the saves look really easy," Sedin told the Vancouver Province. "You see it and you think, 'Wow, that should have been a goal.' He's really impressive. He's going to push hard to play a lot of games."

Who's Hot: Howard has stopped 45 of 47 shots for the Red Wings in consecutive wins since returning from back problems. Pavel Datsyuk (4-6-10) and Nicklas Lidstrom (1-9-10) extended their points streaks to seven games against the Oilers. Cleary has 1 goal and 4 assists during a three-game points streak.

Torres has 5 goals in the Canucks' last three games. Kesler has 4 goals in the last five games. Henrik Sedin has 2 goals and 3 assists during a five-game points streak. He's been held without a point in just one game this season.

Injury Report: Detroit backup goalie Chris Osgood is sidelined with a groin injury. Forward Kris Draper (sports hernia surgery) and defenseman Brian Rafalski (arthroscopic knee surgery) are on injured reserve.

Vancouver defensemen Dan Hamhuis (foot) and Ryan Parent (groin) are day-to-day. Forward Guillaume Desbiens is out indefinitely with a broken hand. Defenseman Sami Salo (Achilles surgery) and forward Alexandre Bolduc (high ankle sprain) are on injured reserve. The team will have forward Rick Rypien available after he served a six-game suspension for an incident with a fan in Minnesota.

Stat Pack: Howard is 6-0-1 this season and hasn't lost in regulation in 22 starts, going 19-0-3 dating back to the 2009-10 campaign. … The Canucks are 16-for-16 in killing off penalties since they allowed three power-play goals to the Wild in an Oct. 19 loss.

Puck Drop: "It seems like every game I play I get more confident and comfortable, and (Thursday) was probably the most challenging of any of the games, but again my teammates gave me goal support, they blocked shots, they boxed down in front of me, they do everything I need them to do, so they're making life easy on me," said Schneider, who figures to be back on the bench Saturday watching Roberto Luongo start for Vancouver.

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