Boston Bruins (52-17-6) at Detroit Red Wings (35-26-14), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings have managed to stay in the thick
of the Eastern Conference playoff race despite missing some of their top
players due to injury.
Head coach Mike Babcock had hoped to get one of those pieces back on Wednesday
when the Red Wings continue their quest for a 23rd straight playoff appearance
in a home game against the red-hot Boston Bruins, but it was not to be for the
The Red Wings have battled a slew of injuries this season, including costly
ones to top forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. While Zetterberg is
still sidelined indefinitely following back surgery, leaving Detroit without
its captain, Datsyuk is close to returning from a knee injury that has held
him out since Feb. 27.
Datsyuk, who has 33 points in just 39 games this season, skated in his first
full practice with the team in over a month on Tuesday, but was ruled out for
this game on Wednesday morning.
There is hope he can return to action on Friday, but that is no sure thing.
"Yeah, waiting too long," Datsyuk told Detroit's website. "Would love to play
as soon as possible but I need to be careful."
Forward Daniel Alfredsson will also miss tonight's game due to a lower-body
The eventual return of Datsyuk could be a big boost for the Red Wings, who
have had an up-and-down March, going 7-6-2 to just keep their heads above
water in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Red Wings are coming off consecutive victories and enter Wednesday with 84
points, good enough for the first of two wild card spots in the East. The
Columbus Blue Jackets own the second postseason berth with 83 points, while
the Toronto Maple Leafs are one point off the pace.
The Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils also are both within four points
of the Red Wings.
Detroit halted a three-game slide with Saturday's big win in Toronto and then
began a three-game homestand with another regulation victory Sunday against
Former Red Wing Valtteri Filppula handed Tampa a 1-0 lead in Sunday's tilt,
but Detroit scored the game's next three goals and used a solid performance
from backup netminder Jonas Gustavsson to hold on for the 3-2 win.
Gustavsson stopped 26 shots to help the Wings win for the fifth time in eight
games. Gustav Nyquist, David Legwand and Joakim Andersson all scored for
"I thought we had a real solid game hear today," said Nyquist. "Our penalty
kill was solid and our power play worked a lot better. It was just a real good
team game we had."
Nyquist has come up big for Detroit in the second half of the season and was
named the NHL's Second Star in March after registering 12 goals and six
assists last month. The 24-year-old Swedish winger leads the league with 22
tallies since Jan. 20 and has a team-high 27 markers on the season.
Detroit has a tough test ahead of it on Wednesday, as the Bruins enter this
contest with a 15-0-1 record over their last 16 games. Boston has won three
consecutive tilts since having a 12-game winning streak -- the club's longest
in 43 years -- halted with a shootout loss in Montreal on March 24. The Bruins
haven't lost in regulation since dropping a 4-2 decision against a visiting
Washington Capitals club on March 1.
However, the Bruins, who clinched the Atlantic Division title over the
weekend, have not fared well against Detroit recently, losing six of the last
seven games in this Original Six matchup.
Boston recorded a 4-1 home win over the Red Wings to open the four-game season
series on Oct. 5, but Detroit has won both encounters since. The last meeting
was on Nov. 27, when the Wings slammed the visiting Bruins by a 6-1 score.
That loss still stands as Boston's largest margin of defeat this season and it
marked Detroit's third straight home win over the B's.
Jimmy Howard will get the start for Detroit on Wednesday and he boasts a 3-1-0
record and a 2.20 goals against average in four career games against the
Bruins. Boston's Tuukka Rask is 1-3-1 with a 3.60 GAA in five lifetime
appearances against the Red Wings.
After clinching the division crown with Saturday's 4-2 win at Washington, the
Bruins picked up a third straight victory the following day in Philadelphia.
The 4-3 decision was also the club's ninth consecutive road win, setting a new
club record for a winning streak outside of Boston. The current streak bests
the road mark set by the team in 1971-72 and equaled in 1992-93.
Although Boston allowed the Flyers to tie the game on a Vincent Lecavalier
goal with 24.1 seconds left in the third period, Reilly Smith scored the game-
winner in the fifth round of the shootout.
Patrice Bergeron scored for the seventh straight game in the win, giving him
the longest current goal-scoring streak in the NHL. With eight goals during
the tear, Boston's valuable two-way forward now has 27 markers on the season.
Bergeron is four goals shy of matching his career-best total of 31 goals set
during the 2005-06 season.
Zdeno Chara and former Flyer Andrej Meszaros supplied Boston's other goals,
while Rask recorded a career-high 49 saves for the Bruins, who have taken at
least one point in each of their last 16 road games (13-0-3), also a franchise
Boston is playing the third part of a four-game road trip tonight and is
23-10-3 as the guest this season. Detroit, meanwhile, is just 16-12-10 as the
host this season.
04/02 12:40:06 ET
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