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game preview

Datsyuk likely to return for Red Wings

Missed previous game with illness; Saad out for Columbus

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

RED WINGS (32-22-11) at BLUE JACKETS (27-31-8)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; FS-D, FS-O, NHL.TV

COLUMBUS -- Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk could return against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday at Nationwide Arena. 

Datsyuk did not play in the 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday because of illness, but participated in the optional skate Tuesday morning.

"We anticipate him playing but we'll make that final decision later on [Tuesday]," coach Jeff Blashill said.

Datsyuk, 37, has 13 goals and 36 points in 49 games this season. He centers the top line with Justin Abdelkader and Henrik Zetterberg.

"He's such a dynamic player that he causes mismatch problems for other teams," Abdelkader said. "He's a good transporter of the puck. He's a big part of the team, obviously."

Goaltender Jimmy Howard will start against Columbus. Petr Mrazek allowed two goals on five shots in the first seven minutes against the Blackhawks.

The Red Wings (75 points) hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs out of the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"There's always urgency," Abdelkader said. "We have to find a way to string wins together here. You don't want to put together a stretch of too many games where you're not getting points because it will set you back."

There is no such playoff talk for the Blue Jackets, who are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference following a 6-0 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday.

"We didn't do a good enough job coaching; the players didn't do a good enough job playing and that's what you end up with," coach John Tortorella said. "Having said that, we haven't had a game like that in quite a while."

The Blue Jackets are 12-6-4 in the past 22 games since Jan. 13 and a big reason has been the play of rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo as a replacement for the injured Sergei Bobrovsky.  

Backup Curtis McElhinney played against the Flyers but Korpisalo (13-8-4, 2.61 goals-against average) will start Tuesday.

Columbus will be without left wing Brandon Saad. Saad, who leads the Blue Jackets with 24 goals and is second with 41 points, will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury, Tortorella said.

Here are the projected lineups:


Justin Abdelkader - Pavel Datsyuk - Henrik Zetterberg

Gustav Nyquist - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Tatar

Dylan Larkin - Andreas Athanasiou - Brad Richards

Darren Helm - Luke Glendening - Tomas Jurco

Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson

Danny DeKeyser - Alexey Marchenko

Kyle Quincey - Mike Green

Jimmy Howard

Petr Mrazek

Injured: Drew Miller (knee), Johan Franzen (concussion)

Scratched: Teemu Pulkkinen, Brendan Smith


Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson  

Nick Foligno - Alexander Wennberg - Scott Hartnell  

Matt Calvert - William Karlsson - David Clarkson  

Rene Bourque - Gregory Campbell - Jared Boll

Ryan Murray - Seth Jones  

Cody Goloubef - David Savard  

Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout  

Joonas Korpisalo 

Curtis McElhinney

Injured: Brandon Saad (upper body), Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), Jack Johnson (upper body)

Scratched: None

Status report: Blashill has not decided between Smith and Marchenko on defense.

Who's hot: Nyquist has two goals and two assists in a four-game point streak.

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