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Red Wings-Thrashers Preview @NHLdotcom
Red Wings-Thrashers Preview

GAME: Detroit Red Wings (21-8-2) at Atlanta Thrashers (11-16-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Detroit Red Wings hope Henrik Zetterberg continues his hot hand when they visit the struggling Atlanta Thrashers.

Zetterberg had two goals for the second straight game Monday, leading the Red Wings to a 3-1 victory over visiting Pittsburgh.

After losing seven of its previous 10, Detroit has won three straight and boasts a Western Conference-best 44 points.

"We're playing a little better," said Zetterberg, who scored on the power play and short-handed Monday. "We didn't play an 'A' game, but it was enough."

Zetterberg recently moved from wing to center and appears to be thriving in the new spot. He has six goals in his last six games and has earned at least one point in nine of his last 10 contests.

Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom also scored for the Red Wings, who were without captain Steve Yzerman. Yzerman injured his groin in practice on Sunday and is expected to miss two to four weeks.

Yzerman missed eight of the first 10 games this season with a groin injury, then was on the ice for 19 of 20 before he was scratched Monday.

The 40-year-old center, who leads all active players with 1,730 points in 22 seasons with Detroit, has four goals and five assists in 2005-06.

The Red Wings did hear on Monday from defenseman Jiri Fischer, who spoke publicly for the first time since he collapsed on the bench with cardiac arrest Nov. 21 against Nashville. Fischer, 25, is taking medication and undergoing regular tests, but hasn't been cleared to play.

"I don't foresee myself coming back in the next couple of weeks," he said. "But this is what I know, what I've worked for my whole life. I don't want it to be taken away."

Detroit has never lost to Atlanta, going 7-0-0 with three road wins.

The Thrashers suffered their sixth loss in seven games on Sunday, 5-4 in a shootout to Chicago.

Ilya Kovalchuk, who had not scored in his previous six games, notched his 18th and 19th goals of the season in the loss.

Marc Savard added a goal and two assists and Michael Garnett made 28 saves in his ninth straight start for Atlanta, which has allowed five goals in three of its past four games.

"We were simply not there, but we showed character and scored some nice goals," said Atlanta coach Bob Hartley. "We generated a lot of good chances and did a lot of good things."

STANDINGS (through Dec. 12): Red Wings - 44 points, 1st place, Central Division. Thrashers - 26 points, 3rd place, 12 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Brendan Shanahan, 17 goals; Pavel Datsyuk, 23 assists and 33 points; Chris Chelios, 62 PIM. Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 19 goals; Savard, 29 assists and 42 points; Andy Sutton, 60 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 12): Red Wings - Power play: 25.8 percent (46 for 178), 1st in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.6 percent (161 for 188), 5th. Thrashers - Power play: 19.9 percent (45 for 226), tied for 5th. Penalty killing: 78.8 percent (160 for 203), 27th.

GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Chris Osgood (7-2-2, 0 SO, 2.89 GAA); Jimmy Howard (1-2-0, 2.36). Thrashers - Garnett (4-7-2, 3.90); Adam Berkhoel (2-4-0, 4.08).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 31, 2003; Red Wings, 6-5, OT. At Detroit, Zetterberg scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, for the Red Wings.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings - 10-3-1 on the road; Thrashers - 6-7-2 at home.

Associated Press
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