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Red Wings cool off Senators with 4-1 win

by John Kreiser

Detroit's Olympians can head to Vancouver with a smile - the Wings finally held on to a lead.

Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and an assist, and Jimmy Howard made 29 saves to help the Red Wings beat the Ottawa Senators 4-1 on Saturday night in their last game before the Olympic break.

It was the Wings' first win in five games - they lost their last two in shootouts. Kirk Maltby, Dan Cleary and Johan Franzen also scored for Detroit, which has been plagued by blown leads all season -- they've lost eight times when leading by two or more goals.

"I thought it was important to get the two points," said Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who will trade his red and white for the blue and yellow of Team Sweden. "Where we're at in the standings, we're in desperate need of points."

Losing is a rare feeling for Ottawa these days - this was only the Sens' second defeat in 15 games.

But Ottawa's players said the Wings didn't play like a team that's had problems holding leads.

"I don't know, but it seems like they're tough to come back against," defenseman Brian Lee said. "They're strong defensively."

Peter Regin scored for Ottawa, and Brian Elliott stopped 36 shots.

"They came out and they seemed like a hungry team," forward Ryan Shannon said.

Detroit forward Tomas Holmstrom left in the first period because of a knee injury, leaving him questionable to play for Sweden in the Olympics. Holmstrom missed 13 games in January because of a knee injury and returned for three games before sitting out Tuesday night in St. Louis. He returned Thursday against San Jose.

The team said it's not a new injury and Holmstrom would talk to Team Sweden coaches on Sunday.

"I'm hoping he's going to recover and play for Sweden," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who is also Team Canada's Olympic coach. "He'd be a huge part of their team. He's a huge part of our team with his emotion and net-front presence."

If Holmstrom can't play in Vancouver, he might be replaced by teammate Johan Franzen, who played his third game following surgery on his left knee that sidelined him for four months.

Wings center Valtteri Filppula also missed the game with a groin injury, though he still hopes to play for Finland in the Olympics. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall returned after missing four games with a sore knee and expects to play for Sweden.

Detroit grabbed a 2-0 lead after one period.

Maltby opened the scoring 9:33 into the game when he backhanded in a rebound for his fourth goal. Datsyuk's power-play goal, a deflection of Lidstrom's slapper, made it 2-0 at 16:33.

The game may have been Maltby's last of the regular season. If defenseman Andreas Lilja -- who hasn't played since last Feb. 28 due to post-concussion syndrome -- is cleared to play, the Red Wings must clear room under the salary cap before he can be activated. Maltby could go on the long-term injured list because of a chronic right shoulder injury to free up space.

"I would be lying if I said it hasn't been on my mind," Maltby said. "But you've got to out there and do what you're supposed to."

Regin put Ottawa on the board 8:13 into the second period when he put in a rebound off a goal-mouth scramble for his ninth goal. But Cleary's power-play goal restored the Red Wings' two-goal lead at 11:09. He converted Todd Bertuzzi's cross-crease pass for his 13th goal.

Franzen's empty-netter sealed the deal.

The loss, combined with Buffalo's 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks, knocked the Senators out of first place in the Northeast Division. They can reclaim the top spot when they visit the New York Islanders in their last game before the break.

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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