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Wings face tough test in San Jose

by Brian Compton
RED WINGS (26-19-10) at SHARKS (36-10-9)

Last 10: Detroit 3-3-4; San Jose 8-0-2.

Season Series: This is the third of four meetings between the teams. Detroit won the first two games, including a 4-1 decision at HP Pavilion on Jan. 9. Darren Helm had a goal and an assist in the victory, while Jimmy Howard made 31 saves.

Big Story: San Jose is enjoying yet another successful regular season. After winning the President's Trophy with 117 points in 2008-09, the Sharks enter Tuesday's action atop the NHL standings with 81 points. Detroit, meanwhile, is battling for a playoff spot after back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Final. To be fair, though, the Wings have been ravaged by injuries this season.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Detroit snapped a three-game skid last Friday night with a 4-2 win against Nashville at Joe Louis Arena, but gave Howard little support on Sunday in a 2-1 shootout loss at Pittsburgh. Howard made 46 saves but only Danny Cleary could solve Marc-Andre Fleury.

"We were on our heels a little bit, I think we gave them too much respect," Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We have to do a way better job. It's going to be a tough year if we keep letting 40-plus shots go past us. He (Howard) is keeping us in games."

Sharks: San Jose is rolling right along and won for the eighth time in its last 10 games on Saturday with a 5-2 victory against the Minnesota Wild at HP Pavilion. Patrick Marleau scored his 36th and 37th goals in the win.

"It was a strange game but we won and I can't complain," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "We played OK and I'm happy with that."

Who's Hot: Howard, a Calder Trophy candidate, ranks third in the NHL with a .928 save percentage. He's also seventh in the League in goals-against average (2.25). … Sharks center Joe Pavelski has 6 goals and 12 points in the last 11 games.

Injury Report: Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom, who broke his foot on Jan. 5, could return on Tuesday night, while Johan Franzen (torn ACL) hopes to be in the lineup next Tuesday at St. Louis. Andreas Lilja is out due to post-concussion syndrome. … Sharks defensemen Dan Boyle (upper body) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body) are questionable.

Stat Pack: With two tallies on Saturday night, Jason Demers became just the third defenseman in Sharks' history to have a multi-goal game. Demers was promoted from the American Hockey League prior to the game.

Puck Drop: "I think he's learning a lot by playing in games like this, where you have to bear down and play real well in the last minute or in the whole third period the way he did. I think he's been really taking huge steps forward with the way he's been playing so far this year." -- Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom on goalie Jimmy Howard
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