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Red Wings host Blackhawks in national-TV event

by Brian Hunter

BLACKHAWKS (18-0-3) at RED WINGS (10-8-3)


Last 10: Chicago 9-0-1; Detroit 4-4-2

Season series: Second of four meetings between these Central Division rivals. Corey Crawford made 30 saves and Nick Leddy scored 2:45 into overtime to give Chicago a 2-1 win at United Center on Jan. 27.

Big story: There was an extended period of time when the Blackhawks looked up the standings at the Red Wings, watching as Detroit won multiple Central Division titles and Stanley Cups. The tables have turned recently, though, with Chicago finally ending its championship drought in 2010 and now starting the 2012-13 season with a 21-game point streak. The opportunity the Red wings have to end that run in front of their home fans and a national-TV audience figures to have them revved up. For the Blackhawks, Marian Hossa will play in his 1,000th game against one of his former teams.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: It was the perfect trap game -- second night of a back-to-back against an inferior opponent -- and Chicago almost fell right in Friday when it hosted Columbus. The Blackhawks yielded a goal in the game's first minute and fell behind again, 2-1, in the second period. As they have throughout the streak, they found a second gear. Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell struck 59 seconds apart late in the second, and although the Blue Jackets tied it in the third, the Hawks got the game to overtime and then won it when Jonathan Toews found Brent Seabrook with 1:37 left for a 4-3 victory.

"Columbus is a hard-working team," Bickell said. "They had us on our heels a couple times in the first and they had a late goal [in the third]. We were down a couple times in this game, and it shows our character in this room to come back. It's been fun and we're just having a blast right now."

Red Wings: This is the start of a three-game homestand for Detroit, which rebounded nicely from an 0-3-2 stretch to finish February with three wins in four outings. The Red Wings were even able to give Jimmy Howard a rare night off Thursday and still escape San Jose with a 2-1 win thanks to the play of backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson. Making his first start after a pair of relief appearances, Gustavsson stopped 26 shots and all three shootout attempts by the Sharks. Damien Brunner connected for the Wings in the penalty-shot tiebreaker. Howard will be back between the pipes on Sunday.

"It's going to be a grind," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said about facing the Blackhawks. "A lot of times we're going to have to keep it simple, get the pucks out of our zone and into their zone. A lot of times the goals aren't going to be scored off the rush, it's more off a grind."

Who's hot: Viktor Stalberg had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks on Friday, and has three goals in the past five games. … Kronwall picked up his 15th assist this season on Patrick Eaves' goal Thursday and led all blueliners in assists and points (17) entering the weekend.

Injury report: Crawford dressed for Chicago as Ray Emery's backup Friday despite leaving Thursday's game in St. Louis after one period due to a reported upper-body injury. Forward Dave Bolland has missed the past four games with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Steve Montador (concussion) and forward Rostislav Olesz (knee) are on injured reserve. … Detroit forward Valtteri Filppula is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Forward Mikael Samuelsson is out with a broken finger. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and forwards Darren Helm (back), Todd Bertuzzi (back) are on injured reserve.

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