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Red Wings-Blackhawks Preview

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Red Wings-Blackhawks Preview

GAME: Detroit Red Wings (23-9-3) at Chicago Blackhawks (13-18-2).

TIME: Friday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Brendan Shanahan has played more than 1,300 games in an 18-year NHL career. This season is shaping up as one of his best.

Last week's NHL offensive player of the week will try to extend his point streak to eight games when the Detroit Red Wings meet the sputtering Chicago Blackhawks.

The 36-year-old Shanahan, named to the Canadian Olympic team Wednesday, has five goals and nine assists in his last seven games. He already has 20 goals, and is on pace to score 46 and record 40 assists this season.

Those totals would be his best since 1996-97, when he had 47 goals and 41 assists in 79 games of a season split between the Hartford Whalers and Red Wings.

Shanahan scored in the third period of Detroit's 4-3 shootout win over Columbus on Tuesday, the first such victory in Red Wings history.

Pavel Datsyuk and Jason Williams scored in the shootout and Chris Osgood help seal the win with a stop on former Wings star Sergei Fedorov.

"I just stayed out high (in the crease), too high for him to shoot it," Osgood said. "Even if he would have gotten it higher, I think it would have went over the net."

Chicago lost for the fourth time in five games Thursday, 6-1 to Nashville. Matthew Barnaby snapped a 13-game goal drought to provide the Blackhawks' only offense.

"We're not a risky team and we were just a little too risky tonight," defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. "Defensively we weren't where we wanted to be."

Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin continued to struggle in his first season with the Blackhawks after leading Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2003-04.

He has allowed 19 goals in his last five games, and his 3.35 goals against average is his worst since his rookie year of 1995 with the Winnipeg Jets. He was replaced by Craig Anderson on Thursday after giving up four goals on 12 shots in 28 minutes.

"It was a feeling I had," coach Trent Yawney said of the decision to pull Khabibulin. "It wasn't indicative of the way he was playing. That's not why I pulled him. I felt that maybe we needed something different."

Khabibulin is 3-7-3 in his last 13 games against the Red Wings.

Friday's game will be the fourth of eight meetings this season between the Original Six teams. Chicago and Detroit played rare back-to-back-to-back games from Oct. 27-Nov. 1, with the Red Wings winning all three.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 22): Red Wings - 49 points, 1st place, Central Division. Blackhawks - 28 points, 3rd place, 21 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Shanahan, 20 goals; Nicklas Lidstrom, 27 assists; Datsyuk, 40 points; Chris Chelios, 64 PIM. Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 14 goals; Tyler Arnason, 17 assists; Bell and Arnason, 26 points; Todd Simpson, 97 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 22): Red Wings - Power play: 25.5 percent (52 for 204), 1st in NHL. Penalty killing: 84 percent (178 for 212), tied for 7th. Blackhawks - Power play: 14.3 percent (28 for 196), 28th. Penalty killing: 84 percent (220 for 262), tied for 7th.

GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Osgood (9-3-3, 3.05 GAA); Jimmy Howard (1-2-0, 2.99). Blackhawks - Khabibulin (11-16-1, 3.35); Anderson (2-2-1, 4.13).

SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 1, Red Wings, 4-1. At Detroit, Osgood made 23 saves after replacing the injured Manny Legace and Lidstrom had two assists for the Wings.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings - 11-4-2 on the road; Blackhawks - 7-6-0 at home.


Associated Press
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