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Wings hope to have Howard back against Blues

by Brian Hunter

BLUES (34-32-10) at RED WINGS (44-22-10)


Last 10: 
St. Louis 5-4-1; Detroit 5-3-2

Season series: Sixth and final meeting of the season between these Central Division rivals. The Red Wings won the first two meetings, both at Joe Louis Arena, and after the Blues responded with a victory at Scottrade Center on Dec. 23, the Wings won the next two meetings there as well. Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg has 1 goal and 8 points to lead all scorers, while Patrik Berglund's 3 goals and 6 points pace St. Louis.

Big story: Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard was hoping to return for this game after coming out of Saturday's win over the Maple Leafs with a shoulder sprain and missing Monday's overtime loss to the Blackhawks. If he can't go, it'll be veteran Joey MacDonald once again, who acquitted himself well against Chicago, making 38 saves.

Team Scope:

Blues: This will be the second game in as many nights for St. Louis, which led briefly against Minnesota on Tuesday when Chris Stewart scored 1:19 into the third period but eventually fell 3-2 in a shootout. Stewart had both goals for the Blues, giving him 26 for the season -- half of those have come in the 20 games since he was acquired from the Avalanche. Berglund assisted on the first goal to reach 47 points, tying his career high from his 2008-09 rookie season.

"I said that from Day 1, as soon as I got here the adjustment was very easy," Stewart said. "They made the transition for me so easy I felt like I'd been here my whole career."

Red Wings: Despite falling to Chicago in the extra period, Detroit maintained second place in the Western Conference, taking a one-point lead over San Jose. Each team now has six games left in the regular season and the Red Wings also have one more non-shootout win than the Sharks, which will be the first tiebreaker once all 82 games have been played. They rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits against the Blackhawks as Nicklas Lidstrom and Zetterberg lit the lamp, but ex-Wing Marian Hossa got one past MacDonald on a power play in the extra period.

"I felt great," MacDonald, who has a 2.13 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 14 appearances this season, told the Detroit Free Press. "They had some good opportunities, and I felt I was out pretty well, cutting the angle down, and my 'D' did a great job of blocking shots and taking care of rebounds that were there."

Who's hot: 
Stewart (4-1-5) and Kevin Shattenkirk (1-3-4) have four-game points streaks going for the Blues. Stewart now has five two-goal games since joining the club. … Zetterberg has scored in consecutive games and has 5 goals in his last seven for the Red Wings. Lidstrom has 1 goal and 4 assists during a four-game points streak. Jiri Hudler has 2 goals and 2 assists during a three-game points streak.

Injury report: St. Louis is without defenseman Barret Jackman (finger) and forwards David Perron (concussion) and Alexander Steen (ankle). Forward TJ Oshie missed Tuesday's game for disciplinary reasons. … Howard could return for Detroit, but MacDonald will remain with the club regardless as veteran backup Chris Osgood (groin) remains on injured reserve. Pavel Datsyuk could also make his return Wednesday from a lower-body injury.

Stat pack: Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak has had a rough go against the Red Wings this season, posting a 4.62 GAA and .857 save percentage in playing every minute of the first five meetings. Howard has won all four of his decisions in the series with a 2.73 GAA and .904 save percentage.

Puck drop: Todd Bertuzzi missed a game earlier this month due to a back injury, but Detroit won't have to worry about losing the veteran forward to a suspension after he was ejected from Monday's game following an elbowing major on Chicago's Ryan Johnson. GM Ken Holland told the Free Press on Tuesday he had talked to the League and there would be no supplemental discipline given to Bertuzzi. Johnson briefly left the ice after the elbow but returned, and said later he didn't think the hit was malicious and that Bertuzzi apologized to him afterward.

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