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Canucks-Red Wings Preview

GAME: Vancouver Canucks (35-19-8-4) at Detroit Red Wings (38-17-9-2).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Despite a rash of injuries, the Detroit Red Wings appear poised to separate themselves from the rest of the Western Conference.

Detroit looks to extend its home win streak to six when the Vancouver Canucks make their final regular season appearance at Joe Louis Arena.

Although the Red Wings beat visiting Calgary 2-1 on Wednesday for their third straight win, it turned out to be a costly day.

Center Kris Draper, who has a career-high 24 goals this season, sustained a partially torn rotator cuff during practice that will keep him out four to six weeks. Defenseman Mathieu Dandenault broke his right foot when he was hit by a shot late in the first period and is also expected to be sidelined four to six weeks.

"We've got depth," Red Wings coach Dave Lewis said, "but you don't want to keep depleting it, because sooner or later, you'll run out."

Detroit is already without defensemen Chris Chelios, Derian Hatcher and Jason Woolley and goalie Curtis Joseph. Chelios is expected to return to the lineup Friday and Hatcher, who hasn't played since Oct. 16 due to a knee injury, could return Monday against Tampa Bay or Thursday at Columbus.

With Draper out of the lineup, Lewis inserted Mark Mowers in his place.

The move paid off as Mowers scored his first goal in over two months at 8:02 of the third period to support another strong performance in net by Manny Legace.

"We've definitely overcome an awful lot, and I think that only makes us a better team," Detroit's Mathieu Schneider said. "When you put a guy like Mowers on the ice and he's killing penalties and he scored a huge goal for us, those things, you just don't see every day."

Wednesday's victory was the Red Wings' fifth straight at Joe Louis Arena and their league-leading 25th at home. They are four points ahead of Colorado and San Jose for first place in the West.

Legace is making a strong case to be the team's No. 1 goalie when Joseph returns. Legace has won eight of his last 10 starts while allowing 18 goals.

Vancouver rallied from three two-goal deficits and skated to a 5-5 tie at Colorado on Thursday.

Captain Markus Naslund had a goal and two assists, and Todd Bertuzzi set up three scores for the Canucks, who are 3-0-1 in their last four and one point behind the Avalanche for the Northwest Division lead.

"We turned the puck over a couple of times early that cost us," Canucks coach Marc Crawford said. "But I was impressed with the character that our guys showed coming back from two goals down early and two goals down late."

Naslund has a goal and four assists in three contests after missing three games with a Grade 2 concussion.

STANDINGS: Canucks - 82 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Northwest Division. Red Wings - 87 points, 1st place, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Naslund, 31 goals, 42 assists and 73 points; Jarkko Ruutu, 116 PIM. Red Wings - Robert Lang, 29 goals, 48 assists and 77 points; Brendan Shanahan, 90 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 3): Canucks - Power play: 16.1 percent (52 for 323), 16th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.4 percent (248 for 287), 1st. Red Wings - Power play: 21.3 percent (57 for 268), 4th. Penalty killing: 86.3 percent (221 for 256), 2nd.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Dan Cloutier (26-18-4, 4 SO, 2.32 GAA); Johan Hedberg (7-4-2, 2, 2.24). Red Wings - Legace (17-7-4, 1, 2.01); Marc Lamothe (0-0-1, 0.92).

SEASON SERIES: Canucks, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 24; Canucks, 4-2. At Vancouver, British Columbia, Daniel Sedin scored four goals and Cloutier stopped 28 shots to lead the Canucks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 18-9-3-4 on the road; Red Wings - 25-5-3-0 at home.

Associated Press
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