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Desperate Flyers set to host Wings

by Adam Kimelman
RED WINGS (41-23-14) at FLYERS (38-34-6)

Last 10 -- Detroit 8-0-2; Philadelphia 2-6-2.

Season series -- This is the only meeting between the teams this season. The last time they played, March 17, 2009, Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg scored 1:32 apart in the third period to give the Red Wings a come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena. The last time the teams met in Philadelphia was Feb. 12, 2007, a 6-1 Flyers win led by Simon Gagne's goal and an assist.

Big story -- Can the Red Wings continue their ascent up the Western Conference standings? Despite their loss Saturday against Nashville, they've gained a point in 12 straight games (10-0-2) to climb to sixth in the conference.

Can Philadelphia find an even keel? Thursday against the Islanders they score four goals but their goaltending let them down, and then on Saturday goalie Brian Boucher was outstanding, but they couldn't put a puck past Montreal's Jaroslav Halak.

Team Scope:

Red Wings -- The red-hot Red Wings could have moved into fifth place in the West if they had beaten Nashville on Saturday, and coach Mike Babcock said he hopes his team learned something from the loss, which saw the Predators score three times in the third period.

"In the end, their third line got a couple of points and you've got to give them credit because they showed good depth," Babcock told the Detroit News. "All in all, there's nothing wrong with today's game, but it's a good message, too -- sometimes being on a big-time roll isn't what you need. Sometimes, you need to get messages and you've got to give everything you've got on every shift to win at playoff time."

Flyers -- Philadelphia's precarious playoff position will be at stake Sunday. A loss would drop them behind the ninth-place Rangers, despite both teams having 82 points, as the Flyers would have played one more game. But coach Peter Laviolette believes that if his team plays with the same effort it had in Friday's 1-0 loss to Montreal, it'll work out well.

"If we can come back with the same type of game -- we were really strong in the offensive zone, we pressed all pucks and lots of opportunities at the net, we just couldn’t find the back of it," Laviolette told "We really limited Montreal's chances at our net and they got one early -- a quick play from the back of the net and they got a 1-0 lead. Their goaltender played really well and that score was able to hold up.

"You look at the game and you want to come back with the same type of energy and that same type of game, and more times than not you'll be successful. So that's the plan."

Who's hot -- Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk has three straight multi-point games, and 3 goals and 8 points in his last five games.

Philadelphia forward James van Riemsdyk has just 1 goal in his last 16 games, but was the Flyers' best forward Friday against Montreal, playing a season-best 20:51 and firing season-best six shots. He was a threat every time he stepped on the ice.

Injury report -- Wings forward Dan Cleary is questionable for Sunday's game after sitting out Saturday's game with a groin injury. .. The Flyers are healthy, and likely will have forward Daniel Carcillo back in the lineup following the completion of his two-game suspension for cross-checking New Jersey's David Clarkson in the face last Sunday.

Stat pack -- In the last 13 meetings between the teams, dating to Jan. 24, 1998, the home team has won every game in this series -- eight in Detroit, five in Philadelphia.

Puck drop -- Chris Osgood will start in goal for the Wings, his first start since Jan. 27 and just his second game action of any sort in the last 25 games. But don't expect Babcock to cut the veteran any slack as far as expectations or factor in any rust growing on Osgood.

 "Stop the puck and win," Babcock told the Detroit News of what he expects to see. "He's going to go in and play well for us and we're going to rally around him. We need him to play well."

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