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Red Wings' Howard returning vs. Predators

by Jon Lane

RED WINGS (18-13-9) vs. PREDATORS (17-18-4)


Last 10: Detroit 3-5-2; Nashville 4-5-1

Season series: The Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators play each other for the second and final time this season. Nashville defeated Detroit 2-0 at Joe Louis Arena on Nov. 19.

Big story: The Red Wings received a boost Saturday in a 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers with the return of forward Henrik Zetterberg and will get two more key players back. Though goalie Jonas Gustavsson (sore groin) didn't practice Sunday and won't play Monday, Jimmy Howard, who has missed three weeks with a sprained left MCL, will get the start.

Howard told the Detroit Free Press he felt some soreness in the knee during practice Sunday and would get evaluated by a doctor.

"It's one of those things right now," Howard said, "where I still don't know. I felt it a couple times in practice."

Darren Helm will also return from a shoulder injury to play for the first time since Dec. 4.

Although Zetterberg did not skate Sunday due to a sore groin, he told reporters he will be in the lineup against the Predators.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Back pain sidelined Zetterberg for 11 games, but he made an immediate impact upon his return with a goal in the Red Wings' win against the Panthers.

"It's huge. Hank brings so much to this team, both on and off the ice,'' said center Gustav Nyquist. "With him and Pav [Pavel Datsyuk] playing you can really feel the difference. That's why they're our leaders."

Predators: Nashville ended a five-game winless streak Saturday with a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings. Forward Mike Fisher scored the game-winner with 26.4 seconds left in the third period, 10 seconds after Kings forward Jeff Carter tied the score.

"I'll actually have a nice sleep," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "As coaches, we don't get any sleep until we win another game. It just wears on you."

Goalie Marek Mazanec made 26 saves to earn his first win since Nov. 27.

''He made some timely saves when we needed him to and he was calm back there,'' Trotz said. ''From our standpoint, it was a combination of solid goaltending and a desperate competitive team going against a fresh, veteran team.''

Who's hot: Predators defenseman Shea Weber has points in his past five games (two goals, five assists). Rookie Seth Jones (two assists) had the first multi-point game of his career Saturday while seeing 19:08 of ice time, his most since Dec. 5 … Datsyuk has six points (1-5-6) in his past four games. Daniel Alfredsson is 3-2-5 in his past five games.

Injury report: Red Wings right wing Johan Franzen (concussion) is on injured reserve, though he skated Monday for the first time since his injury Dec. 15. Also on IR is forward Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery) and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson … Predators goalie Pekka Rinee (hip surgery) remains on IR.


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