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Detroit Red Wings vs. Phoenix Coyotes @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Detroit Red Wings (42-18-10-2) at Phoenix Coyotes (20-31-16-6).

TIME: Thursday, 9 p.m. EST.

The Detroit Red Wings look to move closer to clinching the Central Division for the fourth straight season when they visit the skidding Phoenix Coyotes.

Detroit has a sizable lead over the St. Louis Blues in the division, and is on the verge of winning the Central for the fifth time in six years.

The Red Wings also lead the race for the Presidents' Trophy, holding a one-point advantage over the Tampa Bay Lightning for the most points in the NHL.

Detroit leads the Northwest Division-leading Colorado Avalanche by three points for the top seed in the Western Conference.

The Red Wings are looking to get back on track after having their eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1) snapped with a 4-1 home loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

The defeat was just Detroit's second in its last 14 contests (10-2-2), but the Red Wings lost more than just the game.

Defenseman Derian Hatcher left early in the third period with a shoulder injury after a collision with Calgary's Chris Simon behind the Red Wings net.

He is listed as day to day with a bruised shoulder, and it was not clear Wednesday whether he would be able to play on Thursday night, team spokesman John Hahn said.

Hatcher was playing in only his fifth game after missing 64 with a torn ACL, sustained in the third game of the season. He was signed as a free agent from the Dallas Stars during the offseason.

Phoenix's slump continued on Tuesday night as it lost 3-2 in overtime to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to extend its winless streak to 13 games.

"We battled very hard again," said coach Rick Bowness, 0-7-1-3 since taking over for Bob Francis on Feb. 24. "We're not going to hang our heads. We battled hard right until the end."

The Coyotes are 0-8-2-3 over the skid, and 2-16-3-4 since consecutive wins over the San Jose Sharks and Red Wings in late January.

Phoenix's 13-game winless streak is the third-longest in franchise history. The Winnipeg Jets went 19 games without a win in 1994-95 and were winless in 30 consecutive games during the 1980-81 season, the Jets' second in the NHL.

STANDINGS: Red Wings - 96 points, 1st place, Central Division. Coyotes - 62 points, 5th place, 26 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Robert Lang, 29 goals, 49 assists and 78 points; Brendan Shanahan, 98 PIM. Coyotes - Shane Doan and Ladislav Nagy, 24 goals; Doan, 40 assists and 64 points; Andrei Nazarov, 125 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 16): Red Wings - Power play: 20.8 percent (60 for 288), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.1 percent (243 for 279), 1st. Coyotes - Power play: 14.8 percent (48 for 325), 23rd. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent (299 for 365), 24th.

GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Manny Legace (19-8-5, 2 SO, 1.95 GAA); Curtis Joseph (15-9-2, 2, 2.41). Coyotes - Brian Boucher (9-17-8, 5, 2.78); Brent Johnson (4-6-2, 1, 2.44).


LAST MEETING: Feb. 18; Red Wings, 5-2. At Detroit, Brett Hull tied Dave Andreychuk's NHL record with his 263rd career power-play goal, and Kris Draper scored twice to lead the Red Wings.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings - 14-12-6-2 on the road; Coyotes - 10-17-6-4 at home.

Associated Press
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