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Red Wings try to extend dominance of Wild

by John Kreiser

RED WINGS (5-3-0) at WILD (3-3-3)

TV: FS-Detroit; FS-North

Season series: It's the second of four meetings this season. Two weeks ago, Detroit came to the Xcel Energy Center, spotted the Wild a 2-0 lead and rallied for a 3-2 overtime victory while outshooting the Wild 41-14.

Big Story: After starting out 5-0-0, the Wings have hit the skids. Friday's 4-2 loss to San Jose was their third straight defeat, although their level of play was vastly better than it was in losses to Washington (7-1) and Columbus (4-1). The Wild have been consistently inconsistent; they had good moments in Thursday's game against Anaheim and limited the Ducks to just 16 shots, but still left with a 3-2 loss.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: No team likes losing, especially one for whom winning is a long-engrained habit. But after a pair of poor efforts against Washington and Columbus, the Wings had plenty of life against the Sharks -- they just couldn't score enough goals.

You can't get frustrated," said captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who assisted on both goals. "You have to stick with it and keep working hard. You're going to have your ups and downs throughout the year. You have to fight through it. When you're facing (a losing spell), you've got to dig harder and work harder."

Wild: If Mike Yeo's players follow the instructions he gave them Friday, Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard could have lots of company. After Thursday's 3-2 loss, Yeo was emphatic on Friday that the Wild need to generate more traffic in front of the opposition net.

"Go on and see how goals are scored," Yeo said after Friday's practice. "Across the board, every game, it's the same thing. At least four out of five goals of every game, if not five out of five, is you get a puck in that area, around the blue paint, and you have numbers there. We have to become better at that."

Backup Josh Harding is expected to start for only the second time this season -- the first time came in the previous meeting with the Wings.

Who's Hot: Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk both had two assists Friday, but the Wings have scored just four goals in their last three games. Goalie Jimmy Howard is 7-0-1 with a 1.93 goals-against average against Minnesota since the start of 2009-10.

Injury Report: Wings defensemen Mike Commodore is healthy again after a knee injury suffered in camp, but has yet to play. … Wild defenseman Greg Zanon has been hampered by a groin problem, and the Wild are expected to recall Nate Prosser from their AHL team in Houston. Cody Almond (back) and Mike Lundin (upper body) remain on IR, and Clayton Stoner (finger) isn't expected to play.

Stat Pack: This has been one of the NHL's most lopsided matchups since the Wild entered the NHL 11 years ago. Detroit has won the last four meetings between the teams, the last three in St. Paul, and is 28-6-3-4 all-time, including 14-3-2-2 at the Xcel Energy Center.

Puck Drop: "It was a good game. Sometimes you can fool yourself in these games though. The opposition gets you prepared for these games. You don't have to get yourself prepared," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after Friday's game. "But being a pro is getting prepared every night so you have energy to play every night. So that's a challenge for us tomorrow."

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