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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, February 9th (All times eastern)

Detroit Red Wings (27-21-10) at St. Louis Blues (25-25-9), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Johan Franzen is expected to make his return to the lineup tonight for the Detroit Red Wings, who conclude a five-game road trip versus the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

Franzen has been out since suffering a torn left ACL back on October 8. He had a goal and an assist in three games before the injury after notching 34 goals and 59 points in 71 regular-season games last year. He added another 23 points in the postseason and should help a Red Wings offense that is netting just 2.52 goals per game.

"I'm really excited," Franzen told Detroit's Web site. "I had a good practice [Monday], and this was my first practice actually being in a line, so it was more fun. Hopefully with a good first game I can get some confidence, and hopefully feel good in the other games, too."

Though Franzen is expected to return tonight, the Red Wings will likely be without three of its top players versus the Blues. Niklas Kronwall will sit out tonight's game to rest his left knee, while Tomas Holmstrom (knee) and Patrick Eaves (ankle) are both doubtful after suffering injuries in Detroit's 4-3 setback to Los Angeles on Saturday.

The Red Wings raced out to a quick lead, with Henrik Zetterberg scoring twice and Valtteri Filppula also lighting the lamp in the first period. However, the Kings netted the game's final four goals to hand the Red Wings their ninth loss in their last 12 games (3-5-4).

"We had the game going our way," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "I thought we had a really good third and tilted the rink our way. Our big guys played well today. I thought we had enough to get it done, but it just never happened."

Jimmy Howard made 23 stops in the loss, with Detroit falling to 1-2-1 on its road trip. The Red Wings are also two points back of Nashville for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Blues will look to snap a three-game skid tonight in the opener of a three-game homestand. St. Louis was in action last night, dropping a 5-2 test in Colorado. The club has been outscored 11-5 over its skid.

Eric Brewer scored and Erik Johnson notched his first goal since November 30 -- a span of 31 games between goals -- for St. Louis, which is 0-2-2 in its last four at home and seven points back of a playoff spot.

Chris Mason started in net but was pulled in the second period after giving up five goals on 15 shots. Ty Conklin finished the game between the pipes and stopped all 18 shots he faced.

"We just let it get out of hand there in the second period," Mason said. "It was a combination of turning the pucks over and me not being able to make a save."

Conklin posted a 42-save shutout over Detroit back on December 9, giving the Blues a win in three of their four meetings with the Red Wings this year. That includes a two-game sweep of the season-opening set in Sweden.

However, the Red Wings have still won eight of the last 13 meetings and six straight in St. Louis.

02/09 10:46:31 ET


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