NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 23rd (All times eastern)
Detroit Red Wings (21-8-4) at St. Louis Blues (16-12-5), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Red Wings picked up a much-needed victory last night, but it came with a big cost.
With playmaking center Pavel Datsyuk expected to be out for the next month, Central Division-leading Detroit goes for a fourth straight victory over the St. Louis Blues this evening at Scottrade Center.
The Red Wings had dropped three of four prior to Wednesday's meeting with the Canucks. However, Henrik Zetterberg's second goal of the game with 2:01 left in overtime lifted Detroit to a 5-4 victory.
Daniel Cleary added a goal and an assist, Valtteri Filppula and Nicklas Lidstrom both scored and Jimmy Howard made 35 saves to give Detroit a 4-4-2 mark over its last 10 games and a one-point edge over Dallas for the most in the Western Conference.
The Red Wings played most of last night's game without Datsyuk, who suffered a broken right hand in the first period. Though the injury won't require surgery, Datsyuk, who leads the Red Wings with 27 assists and 39 points, is expected to miss at least four weeks of action.
"It's unfortunate. There's nothing we can do about it," Detroit coach Mike Babcock told his team's website. "We have to find a way to dig in, just like we did [Wednesday] to get the team gunning, and [there's] more opportunity for someone else."
The Red Wings have outscored the Blues, 12-5, in taking the first two meetings this season, both in Detroit. Datsyuk had three assists over the two matchups, while last Wednesday's 5-2 victory featured the first career hat trick for the veteran Lidstrom.
Cleary has three goals over the two meetings this season, while Zetterberg has three goals and nine assists in his last seven versus the Blues.
It is unknown if Howard or Chris Osgood will get the call in tonight's opener of a four-game road trip. Howard has won both games this season versus the Blues and is 4-2-1 with a 2.67 goals-against average versus them lifetime.
Osgood is 6-2-1 in his last nine versus the Blues, winning four straight at Scottrade Center. The veteran failed in his bid on Sunday to become the 10th goaltender in league history to reach 400 wins.
The Blues snapped a six-game home losing streak to the Red Wings the last time they hosted the club and had lost four of five overall prior to Tuesday's 4-2 victory in Atlanta.
Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Sobotka both finished with a goal and an assist, Alexander Steen and Brad Boyes scored and Ty Conklin made 37 saves.
"We stuck to the details in this game," said St. Louis head coach Davis Payne. "We knew that they were a really good forechecking team with some skill in the back as well. We knew how important that first goal would be especially with both teams playing back-to-back nights."
Jaroslav Halak should get the start tonight for the Blues and has been in net for the two meetings this season with Detroit. He has allowed 11 goals on 67 shots in that span.
St. Louis is 10-4-2 at home this year, but five of those losses have come in its last seven at Scottrade Center.
12/23 11:26:21 ET