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Dallas Stars vs. Detroit Red Wings @NHLdotcom
Stars-Red Wings Preview

GAME: Dallas Stars (35-23-12-0) at Detroit Red Wings (40-17-10-2).

TIME: Saturday, 3 p.m. EST.

The Detroit Red Wings are closing in on the Central Division title. Their goals are much higher than that.

Western Conference-leading Detroit looks to extend a six-game unbeaten streak when the Dallas Stars visit Joe Louis Arena.

Jason Williams and Curtis Joseph each made successful returns to the lineup Thursday, leading the Red Wings to a 4-2 victory at Columbus.

Williams scored two goals after missing 20 games as a healthy scratch, and Joseph stopped 31 shots after sitting out 11 games with a sprained right ankle.

"It felt really good to get back in the lineup," Williams said. "I've been really waiting for this moment and I happened to get some good scoring chances."

Henrik Zetterberg and Brett Hull also scored for Detroit, 5-0-1 in its last six.

The Red Wings, the league's best home team, are a virtual lock to win the Central Division with a 15-point lead over second-place Nashville. Detroit is more concerned with holding off Colorado for the top seed in the West, as well as a tight battle with several teams for the NHL's best record.

Joseph said he wasn't sure how his ankle would react, and Detroit coach Dave Lewis said he would see how Joseph felt before deciding whether he would start Saturday. Manny Legace, 7-1-1 in his last nine decisions, would get the start if Joseph is unable to play.

Detroit continues to play very well despite playing without injured forwards Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk and Robert Lang and defenseman Mathieu Dandenault. None of the four are expected to play Saturday.

Dallas rebounded from a disappointing 4-0 loss at Pittsburgh on Tuesday with a 2-2 tie at Philadelphia on Thursday.

Brenden Morrow scored the tying goal with 35 seconds left in regulation, helping the Stars move to 8-1-2 in their last 11.

Despite the tie, Dallas dropped three points behind San Jose for the Pacific Division lead and remained fifth in the West. While winning the Pacific would guarantee the Stars one of the top three seeds in the conference, they could also catch Vancouver for fourth.

"We needed that point, especially after the way we played in Pittsburgh," Stars center Mike Modano said. "We skated well, controlled most of the play and out-chanced them. We finally got the goal we needed."

Right wing Valeri Bure and defenseman Chris Therien, both acquired at Tuesday's trade deadline, made their Stars debuts Thursday. Bure assisted on Morrow's goal.

STANDINGS: Stars - 82 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Pacific Division. Red Wings - 92 points, 1st place, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Stars - Bill Guerin, 30 goals and 57 points; Sergei Zubov, 33 assists; Steve Ott, 146 PIM. Red Wings - Lang, 29 goals, 49 assists and 78 points; Brendan Shanahan, 94 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 11): Stars - Power play: 16.4 percent (47 for 286), 13th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (222 for 261), 6th. Red Wings - Power play: 20.7 percent (58 for 280), 4th. Penalty killing: 87.0 percent (234 for 269), 1st.

GOALTENDERS: Stars - Marty Turco (32-20-12, 7 SO, 2.03 GAA); Ron Tugnutt (2-3-0, 2.42). Red Wings - Joseph (14-9-2, 2, 2.42); Legace (18-7-5, 1, 1.94).

SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 2-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 26; Tie, 2-2. At Dallas, Teppo Numminen scored the tying goal for the Stars with 6:02 left in regulation.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Stars - 12-17-5-0 on the road; Red Wings - 26-5-4-0 at home.

Associated Press
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