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Wings get closer to playoff berth with win over Blues

by Brian Compton
With each passing game, the Detroit Red Wings are inching closer toward their 19th consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Valtteri Filppula broke a 2-2 tie with 6:49 remaining in regulation on Wednesday night, as the Wings improved to 6-0-1 in their last seven games with a 4-2 win against the St. Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena.

Not only did Detroit move four points ahead of the ninth-place Calgary Flames, but it also pulled within three points of fifth place. The Red Wings are 9-2-1 since the NHL resumed play after the Olympic break.

"Tonight was probably the toughest game for us that we've had in a while," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "But the guys dug in and they found a way to win. I probably should have given them (Tuesday) off. I chose not to and I thought it would help us. If I could do it all over again, I'd take (Tuesday) off. We'll take (Thursday) off and get re-energized mentally and physically."

Jimmy Howard continued to make his case for the Calder Trophy by making 30 saves to earn his 30th win of the season.

"Howie was the guy that kept us in the game," Babcock said. "Let's not kid ourselves. He looks like he's a goalie. He battles. He's getting better, so good for us."

After Paul Kariya scored in the first period to give the Blues a 1-0 lead, Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi scored in the second period for Detroit. Jay McClement tied the game for St. Louis when he beat Howard 2:05 into the third.

Zetterberg has 17 points in his last 11 games. His goal came just 26 seconds into the second.

"Z has really pushed here as of late," Babcock said.

Ty Conklin, who was Chris Osgood's backup goaltender in Detroit last season, made 20 saves for the Blues. He was particularly bothered by Filppula's go-ahead tally, which was set up by Brian Rafalski's flip from center ice. The puck bounced off Conklin and went right to Filppula, who stepped around the goaltender backhanded the puck into the wide-open net for his 10th goal of the season.

"Tonight was probably the toughest game for us that we've had in a while.  But the guys dug in and they found a way to win. I probably should have given them (Tuesday) off. I chose not to and I thought it would help us. If I could do it all over again, I'd take (Tuesday) off. We'll take (Thursday) off and get re-energized mentally and physically." -- Mike Babcock
Filppula then sealed the deal with an empty-net goal at 19:48.

"Just frustrating," Conklin said after his team fell 10 points behind Detroit. "One was off a foot and the last one. I'm trying not to back up and get eaten up by it.

"I thought we outplayed them for a good part of the game, especially in the third period."

Canucks 4, Ducks 1 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Henrik Sedin set up Vancouver's first three goals and took over the NHL scoring lead as the Canucks stayed five points ahead of Colorado in the Northwest Division and put another nail into the Ducks' playoff hopes.

Andrew Raycroft got only the second home start by a Vancouver goaltender in four seasons when Roberto Luongo was healthy and made 30 saves as coach Alain Vigneault sat his captain, who looked shaky in Tuesday's 3-2 loss at Edmonton.

"I thought Razor played real good," coach Alain Vigneault said. "When he had to make key saves at the right time, he made the big saves."

Raycroft was superb in the early going, gobbling up high shots by Corey Perry and Lubomir Visnovsky without allowing rebounds. His glove save off Matt Beleskey early in the third period drew chants of "Raycroft! Raycroft!" from the sellout crowd of 18,810.

"I had to kind of compose myself," Raycroft said. "It was pretty cool. It was greatly appreciated."

Vigneault said he was more than happy to match his big line of the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows with Anaheim's top unit, let by Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

"The twins' line was really good," Vigneault said. "We played them head-to-head most of the night against Getzlaf's (line), and I thought they did a really solid job against them."

Henrik Sedin set up Christian Ehrhoff's power-play goal 8:31 into the game and Daniel's fluke goal at 16:48 for a 2-0 lead, leaving Ducks coach Randy Carlyle frustrated.

"I didn't think we played that badly -- we had a decent start and we were down 2-0," he said.

Burrows made it 3-0 at 6:19 of the second when Daniel forced a turnover behind the Anaheim net and got the puck to Henrik at the side of the goal. Henrik's spinning blind backhand pass left Burrows with an empty net at the other side for his team-leading 33rd goal of the season.

Henrik's 99 points are one more than Washington's Alex Ovechkin. No Canuck has ever led the NHL in scoring.

Saku Koivu spoiled Raycroft's shutout by scoring at 8:04 of the third, but Ryan Kesler hit the empty net with 30 seconds left.

The loss left Anaheim 11 points behind eighth-place Detroit with nine games remaining. The Ducks have dropped their last two games, scoring only three goals.

"It seems like in the last two losses, we've played only parts of games, not a full 60 minutes," Carlyle said.

The Ducks also lost Getzlaf after he reinjured the same ankle he hurt before the Olympics.

"It's frustrating when you don’t get points when you need them," Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer said. "Ryan is a big part of our offense, and we didn't have him. We have to find a way."

Rangers 5, Islanders 0 | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOS

Marian Gaborik had a pair of goals as the Rangers completely dominated the Islanders to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots for one of the easiest shutouts of his career.

For's complete story, click here.

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report

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