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Wings aim for fifth straight win at Minnesota

by Deborah Francisco
RED WINGS (36-16-6) AT WILD (31-22-5)

TV – NBC (HD).

Last 10: Detroit 7-3-0; Minnesota 7-3-0.

Season Series – Detroit and Minnesota have split the season series so far with the Wild winning a 4-3 contest in overtime on Nov. 19 and the Red Wings winning the next meeting 4-1 on Dec. 26. Sunday's contest will be the third of four meeting between the Western Conference clubs.

Big Story – Minnesota has won three of its last five contests and is slowly but surely paving a path into postseason contention while Detroit has a chance to extend its recent win streak to five games, which would be its longest of the 2010-2011 season.

Team Scope:

Red Wings – Detroit won its fourth straight game for the second time this season with a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday. Todd Bertuzzi notched two goals in that game, including the game-winner in the third period. Something is gelling for Detroit's offense of late as it has combined for 20 goals in its last four games after netting only four goals in its previous four games.

"Everyone's a little bit calmer," Bertuzzi said. "Everyone's going out there and doing it. Be happy and enjoying playing out there. I think we're really concentrating on playing really solid defense and when we do that we end up scoring a lot, too."

Wild – After scoring just two goals in as many games, the Wild broke out of a funk with a 5-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

"It was a huge win versus a team that's ahead of is in the standings and that we're chasing," said Wild coach Todd Richards.

Matt Cullen tallied the game-winner in that contest with a short-handed goal at the 15:07 mark of the first period. Mikko Koivu, Eric Nystrom, Kyle Brodziak and Martin Havlat also had goals in the game.

Minnesota currently sits in 10th place in the West with 67 points on the season, but just one point separates 6th place from 10th place. With a little bit of consistency, the Wild are still poised to be in the running for a postseason appearance.

Who's hotHenrik Zetterberg has eight assists in his last five games, including two on Friday.

Injury Report – Detroit is still without forwards Valtteri Filppula (knee) and Mike Modano (wrist) and goalie Chris Osgood (sports hernia surgery). … In Minnesota, defenseman Marek Zidlicky returned to the lineup after missing 21 games with a separated shoulder but Marco Scandella is still out indefinitely with a concussion while James Sheppard (knee), Josh Harding (ACL/MCL) and Guillaume Latendresse (hernia/hip) are all on IR.

Stat Pack – Historically, Detroit has dominated play between these two teams since Minnesota joined the league in 2000, boasting a record of 25-6-3 in that span.

Puck Drop – Minnesota's Mikko Koivu, who has four points in five games (1 goal, 3 assists) including the opening tally in Friday's contest, left that match with a hand injury and is questionable for Sunday's tilt.

"To lose a guy like we did during the game, everyone's got to step up a little bit and we did. He's a huge player on our team and it's a big void when he's not in there," Brodziak said.

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