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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, January 21st (All times eastern)

Detroit Red Wings (24-17-8) at Minnesota Wild (24-23-3), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Wild put their strong home record on the line in tonight's matchup with a slumping Detroit Red Wings team that will enter the Xcel Energy Center mired in a three-game losing streak.

The reigning Western Conference champion Red Wings fell to a mediocre 24-17-8 on the season after Tuesday's 3-2 loss in Washington, where the Capitals rallied from a one-goal deficit with a pair of scores within a 46-second span in the third period.

"It's pretty deflating," said Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi. "We had it in our hands and we were outskating them, playing well. To come out with no points, it's tough."

The Red Wings lost despite owning a decided 46-23 shot advantage against the Eastern Conference-leading Capitals, who received a terrific performance out of goaltender Jose Theodore.

Brian Rafalski and Dan Cleary had the goals for Detroit, with Chris Osgood finishing with 20 saves in the veteran netminder's first full game since December 30.

Detroit, which currently stands just ninth in the West with 56 points, has now lost three straight and seven of its last 10 outings on the road (3-5-2). The Red Wings have had success when visiting Minnesota in the recent past, though, having amassed a 7-1-1 record with one tie in the past 10 meetings between these teams at the Xcel Energy Center.

In addition, Detroit has prevailed in four of the last five overall matchups in this series.

Minnesota is usually a pretty tough customer in its own building. The Wild have posted an excellent 16-6-1 mark at the Xcel Energy Center this season and have won four in a row on home ice. The team starts up a three-game residency tonight that will end with a rematch with the Red Wings next Wednesday.

The Wild is coming off a winless and pointless three-game road trip, however, and continued its longtime struggles at Dallas' American Airlines Center with Monday's 4-3 setback to the Stars. The loss was Minnesota's 11th in a row to Dallas as the visitor.

Minnesota fell behind 4-0 with 6:23 still to play in the second period, prompting head coach Todd Richards to pull goaltender Niklas Backstrom after making just 11 saves on 15 chances. Josh Harding stopped all 14 shots he faced in relief.

Antti Miettinen scored a pair of goals to start a Wild comeback attempt, and Minnesota got to within one on Mikko Koivu's marker with five minutes left but couldn't come up with the equalizer.

"You have to give the guys some credit for battling back," said Richards. "But another poor start to the game cost us. It's January and if we want to get into the playoffs we have to do better."

The Wild are 13th out of the Western Conference's 15 teams at the moment with a total of 51 points.

01/21 10:57:25 ET


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