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Red Wings-Blues Preview

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Although they have taken the lead in the Western Conference, the Detroit Red Wings still haven't solved their inconsistent play on defense. Some of their best performances, though, have come in St. Louis.

The visiting Red Wings will look to add another strong showing Saturday as they attempt to stay unbeaten against the Blues this season.

Detroit (44-15-9) blew a two-goal lead in the third period Thursday night against visiting Calgary, allowing the Flames to score three times in the final 3:22. The Red Wings couldn't capitalize on Daniel Cleary's goal with 42 seconds left and suffered a 6-5 shootout loss.

After outshooting the Flames 28-4 in the first period, they were outshot 17-2 in the final 20 minutes of regulation, but moved a point ahead of San Jose in the West after the Sharks fell 3-1 in St. Louis later in the evening.

"I thought we got too passive (in the third period). We were backing in too much and giving them the red line to dump it in," said Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who had a goal and two assists. "We got away from playing our system late in the game."

In allowing five goals on 33 shots, Ty Conklin tied his worst performance of the season and added to Detroit's defensive struggles. The Red Wings have give up 25 goals in the past six games, allowing Nashville to score eight times Feb. 28 and Columbus to match that total last Saturday.

Fortunately for Detroit, its goalies have bounced back from their woeful performances.

Following an 8-2 home loss to the Blue Jackets in which Chris Osgood gave up seven goals, Conklin led the Red Wings to a 3-2 overtime win Tuesday night over visiting Phoenix.

Conklin allowed four goals in the first 9:51 and Osgood gave up another four on 14 shots in the 8-0 loss in Nashville, but Osgood recovered with his first shutout of the season in the next game - a 5-0 win in St. Louis.

In its four straight wins at the Scottrade Center, Detroit has allowed four goals, and former Blue Osgood has two shutouts among his three consecutive victories there. Conklin is 3-0-0 with a 2.10 goals-against average in four lifetime meetings against St. Louis (31-28-8).

Along with the play of their goalies, the Red Wings have used their league-best offense - 246 goals - to outscore St. Louis 16-7 in winning all four meetings this season.

The Blues will look to break that streak as they try to move toward their first postseason berth since 2003-04. St. Louis' 70 points put them two behind Edmonton and Dallas, who are tied for seventh.

While Detroit's goaltenders have struggled of late, Chris Mason has helped the Blues stay in contention with consecutive victories. He stopped 24 shots Thursday against the Sharks and made 20 saves in a 5-2 win Tuesday night over visiting Dallas.

Since starting 3-13-1 with a 3.14 GAA, Mason is 14-5-4 with a 1.93 GAA and three shutouts in his last 23 appearances. Against Detroit, however, he has given up 12 goals in four straight losses.

"We just got to keep going," he said. "Playing games that mean something every night is just unbelievable."

The Blues have backed Mason with 15 goals in their last four games, and Brad Boyes has three goals and three assists during a four-game point streak.

Detroit is 6-0-1 in the last seven meetings.

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