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GAME: Detroit Red Wings (35-16-9-2) at Vancouver Canucks (32-19-7-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 10 p.m. EST.

With three of their top players sidelined, the Vancouver Canucks haven't been playing their best hockey.

The undermanned Canucks will look to snap out of their recent slump when they host the Western Conference-leading Detroit Red Wings.

Vancouver lost 4-3 in overtime to Edmonton on Saturday for its second straight defeat and fifth in six games.

Team captain and scoring leader Markus Naslund missed his second straight game after suffering a concussion on Feb. 16, and Matt Cooke served the first game of his two-game suspension for a spearing incident on Thursday against Minnesota.

Top defenseman Ed Jovanovski has missed nearly a month with a sprained right shoulder.

"Overall, we just got to strive to get better and play like we did to get the leads," said Todd Bertuzzi, who had two assists against Edmonton. "We tied it up, we came right back, tied it up and then got the lead.

"We've got to play better with the lead, and we've got to continue to go forward instead of sitting back."

The Canucks have been outscored 19-10 over the last six games. They have won just two games this month and will be facing three playoff contenders in Detroit, San Jose and St. Louis before the calendar turns to March.

Despite its struggles, Vancouver is in fourth place in the Western Conference with 75 points.

The Red Wings are coming in off Monday's 1-1 tie in Edmonton, and are unbeaten in four (3-0-1). The Wings have lost just three of their last 17 games (9-3-5) and are tied with Ottawa for the most points in the NHL.

Marc Lamothe, a 10-year minor-leaguer, stopped 29 shots in his first NHL start in four years and his third appearance overall. Lamothe, who turns 30 on Friday, played in two games for Chicago in 1999.

With No. 1 goalie Curtis Joseph out with a sprained right ankle, Manny Legace had played in six straight games and needed a night off.

Nicklas Lidstrom scored the game-tying goal at 12:56 of the third period for the Red Wings.

STANDINGS: Red Wings - 81 points, 1st place, Central Division. Canucks - 75 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Pavel Datsyuk, 25 goals, 34 assists and 59 points; Brendan Shanahan, 86 PIM. Canucks - Naslund, 30 goals, 38 assists and 68 points; Jarkko Ruutu, 114 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 22): Red Wings - Power play: 20.8 percent (52 for 250), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.3 percent (203 for 238), 7th. Canucks - Power play: 15.9 percent (48 for 302), 18th. Penalty killing: 86.7 percent (234 for 270), 1st.

GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Legace (14-6-4, 1 SO, 2.06 GAA); Lamothe (0-0-1, 0.92). Canucks - Dan Cloutier (24-18-3, 4, 2.28); Johan Hedberg (6-4-2, 1, 2.42).


LAST MEETING: Nov. 3; Canucks, 5-1. At Vancouver, British Columbia, Jason King had two goals, and Bertuzzi, Naslund and Brendan Morrison also scored for the Canucks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings - 12-11-6-2 on the road; Canucks - 14-10-5-0 at home.

Associated Press
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