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Wings look to keep rolling as Jackets come to town

by Mike G. Morreale

BLUE JACKETS (32-32-13) at RED WINGS (40-23-13)

Last 10 -- Columbus 6-2-2; Detroit 9-0-1

Season series -- Detroit leads the season series 2-1. The Blue Jackets scored a 1-0 overtime victory in their last meeting on Dec. 28 at Nationwide Arena when Fredrik Modin backhanded a rebound of his own shot into the net 3:12 into the extra period. This is the first of three games between the teams in the last 11 days of the season

Big story -- The Wings are rolling with nine wins and an OT loss in their last 10, and the surge is due in large part to having healthy bodies in the lineup and the play of rookie goalie Jimmy Howard. The 25-year-old made his 23rd consecutive start on Tuesday at home against Edmonton -- the longest for a Red Wings rookie goalie since Roy Edwards started 23 games in a row in 1967-68.

Team Scope

Blue Jackets -- The Jackets, officially out of the playoff race, are playing for right now -- and that pride showed on Tuesday in a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning when they overcame a one-goal deficit when Rick Nash scored the winner on the second of four straight Columbus power-plays in the opening 12 minutes of the third period. It was Nash's 33rd goal of the season and his second of the game. Interestingly enough, it was Nash's first two goals against the Lightning -- the only NHL team he hadn't scored on in his career to that point.

Red Wings -- Detroit is on a 13-2-1 run mark since Feb. 11 and has climbed to sixth in the Western Conference playoff race -- one point head of Los Angeles. Defenseman Brad Stuart scored with 1:07 left in the third period to give the Wings a 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday on a night when centers Pavel Datsyuk (600th) and Henrik Zetterberg (500th) both reached games-played milestones. It was Detroit's first win over Edmonton in four tries this season. The Wings blew a 4-0 second-period lead but held on for the victory.

"It was one of those nights for us," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Obviously we had the game totally in control and when you stop playing a little bit and make some mistakes, suddenly the other team gets going."

Who's hot -- Over the last 18 games, Columbus wing Jake Voracek has 8 goals, 21 points and a plus-9 rating, scoring at least a point in 13 of those 18 games.

Injury report -- Detroit's Dan Cleary (groin) is day-to-day and Kirk Malty (shoulder surgery) is out another month. The Blue Jackets are without defensemen Rostislav Klesla (hip) and Jan Hejda (knee) and forward Jared Boll (hand) is day-to-day.

Stat pack -- Detroit's penalty-killing unit has killed 66 of the last 71 power-play attempts by opponents and has not allowed a power-play goal against in 11 of the last 13 games -- killing off 36 of 38 penalties taken in that span.

Puck drop -- Now that the Red Wings have all but officially qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 18th consecutive season -- the longest current streak in pro sports -- the question is will the club earn one of the top four seeds for the 17th consecutive season. Detroit is currently six points behind Central Division-leading Chicago, which is second in the Western Conference.

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