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Red Wings-Avalanche Preview @NHLdotcom

Even after their leading goal-scorer went down with an injury, the Detroit Red Wings turned in a strong offensive effort.

They stand a good chance of doing so again against the struggling defense of the Colorado Avalanche.

Marian Hossa is not expected to be available Wednesday night, when the Red Wings visit an Avalanche team that's in jeopardy of its longest losing streak in more than a decade.

Since finishing January with five straight losses, Detroit has stayed in the hunt for the top spot in the Western Conference with an 11-3-1 surge. A win Wednesday would move the Red Wings (41-14-8) one point ahead of idle San Jose and Boston (93 points) for the league lead.

The Red Wings opened their three-game road trip Saturday with an 8-0 loss in Nashville, but responded with a lopsided victory of their own Tuesday night, 5-0 over surging St. Louis.

Tomas Kopecky had a goal and two assists while Chris Osgood stopped 22 shots in his first shutout of the season for the Red Wings, who lost Hossa early in the first period.

The team leader with 34 goals, Hossa went headfirst into the end boards following a check by Blues defenseman Roman Polak. He was hospitalized for observation, but team spokesman John Hahn said a CT scan was negative.

That diagnosis seemed to inspire the Red Wings, who average a league-best 3.7 goals per game and are 16-1-2 when scoring at least five times.

"You're a little concerned, a little worried, but then we got a little update that he was OK," forward Daniel Cleary said. "The one thing we talked about was 'Let's take it to them, let's get this thing out-of-hand.'"

Detroit looks for another strong effort against a Colorado team allowing a conference-worst 3.2 goals per game. The Avalanche got outscored 23-8 while losing the last five contests on its just-completed six-game road trip.

Andrew Raycroft stopped 27 shots in Monday night's finale - a 4-2 defeat to the New York Islanders - to finish 1-3-0 with a 3.38 goals-against average in five games during the swing. Peter Budaj gave up seven goals on 35 shots in two starts on the trip.

"At times I think we got outworked," said left wing Ryan Smyth, who finished with four goals and three assists on the trip after scoring twice against the Islanders. "As a unit, we just didn't buy in and simplify things the way the coach wanted to."

Colorado (28-35-1) - owner of the worst record in the West - returns to the Pepsi Center for the first time since Feb. 17, hoping to prevent its first six-game slide since March 30-April 11, 1998.

As bad as the Avalanche have been in 2008-09, they've been great against the Red Wings - so much so that they have a chance for their first series sweep of Detroit since 1987-88, when they were the Quebec Nordiques.

Colorado has won each of this season's three matchups by one goal, including a 6-5 shootout victory in Detroit on Feb. 15 - the most recent meeting.

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