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Wings hope to hold serve at home against Coyotes

by Brian Hunter
COYOTES (2-3-3) at RED WINGS (5-1-1)

TV: FS-A (HD), FS-D (HD)

Season Series:
Second of four meetings this season between teams that met in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring. Detroit won that series in seven games and drew first blood this season by going back to Phoenix and claiming a 2-1 overtime win on Oct. 16 on a power-play goal by Niklas Kronwall. The Red Wings got 25 saves in net from Jimmy Howard, while Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 31 shots for the Coyotes.

Big Story: How competitive is the Central Division going to be this season? Well, right now all five teams are bunched within three points of each other. Eventually there figures to be some separation, and Detroit wants to keep winning and be the team that starts to pull away from the rest of the pack. The Red Wings have won three in a row and are off to a 3-0-1 start on home ice.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Wins have been difficult to come by for last season's Cinderella squad. Phoenix shut out Boston in Prague to open the season, but has just one victory since in seven games. The Coyotes have dropped three games in overtime, including the first matchup with the Red Wings, but they failed to get any points in their most recent game against the Senators. Defensemen Sami Lepisto and Keith Yandle scored to cut a 3-0 deficit to a single goal in the third, but they lost by a 5-2 final.

"We put ourselves in the position where we have to chase a game the whole night and gave them the opportunity to feel good about themselves," said captain Shane Doan, who returned to the lineup after serving a three-game suspension for a hit on Anaheim's Dan Sexton and led all forwards with 21:08 of ice time, contributing three shots.

Red Wings: This is the third game on a homestand for Detroit that concludes Saturday against division rival Nashville. The Red Wings have won the first two and have had four days off since their most recent victory, a 5-4 thriller over the Ducks on Saturday. After rallying from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits to draw even, Pavel Datsyuk ensured the Wings got two points and the Ducks didn't get any by scoring with 12 seconds left in regulation.

"He dominated out there," said teammate Henrik Zetterberg, who wasn't so bad himself in a 4-point effort. "When he makes his moves, it's tough for the other team to defend against."

Who's Hot: Bryzgalov has just one regulation loss in his six starts (2-1-3) to go with a 2.65 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. … Howard has yet to lose in regulation (4-0-1) while posting a 2.14 GAA and .925 save percentage. Zetterberg (3-5-8), Nicklas Lidstrom (1-4-5) and Datsyuk (2-2-4) all have three-game points streaks going. Franzen has 4 goals in as many games.

Injury Report:
Forward Martin Hanzal, who scored the only goal for Phoenix on Oct. 16, is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. … For Detroit, forward Justin Abdelkader (ribs) is day-to-day. Forward Kris Draper (sports hernia) is on injured reserve. Defenseman Brian Rafalski (arthroscopic knee surgery) is out several weeks. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (back spasms) is out indefinitely.

Stat Pack: Vernon Fiddler won 16 of 21 faceoffs against the Senators, and the Coyotes won 45 of 71 (63 percent) as a team. … Lidstrom had 3 assists against the Ducks, giving him 1,054 points and moving him past Denis Potvin for sixth on the all-time scoring list for defensemen.

Puck Drop: Kronwall angered future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne with a big hit in Saturday's game, but his coach doesn't think there's anything illegal or dirty about the way the bruising defenseman plays the game.

"I think Kronwall plays the game well within the rules," Mike Babcock told the Detroit Free Press. "It's well-documented he steps up and he gets on the hunt for people. He does it way more at playoff time. It makes you aware, and later in the neutral zone, when you should get a pass, you miss it. That's just hockey."

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