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Saturday, January 3rd (All times eastern)

Detroit Red Wings (25-7-5) at Minnesota Wild (18-16-2), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Indoors or outdoors, it doesn't matter to the Red Wings. Detroit aims for its third straight victory and sixth in the last eight games tonight when it travels to Minnesota to take on the Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

The Red Wings currently hold the second-best record in the Western Conference, as its 55 points are six back of front-running San Jose. Detroit enters this test having swept a home-and-home series with the Blackhawks, pushing its edge over second-place Chicago in the Central Division to eight points.

After a 4-0 home win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday, the two clubs faced off on New Year's Day in the 2009 Winter Classic, played at Chicago's Wrigley Field. Detroit fell behind early in the stadium that usually houses the Cubs of Major League Baseball, but rattled off five straight goals for a 6-4 victory.

Jiri Hudler scored twice and added an assist and Pavel Datsyuk added a goal in a third straight game, extending his point streak to nine games (8 goals, 9 assists). Brian Rafalski had a goal and two assists, while Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg each had three helpers.

Ty Conklin made 33 saves to pick up the win for the second year in a row in the Winter Classic, having guided Pittsburgh over the Sabres in Buffalo on the first day of 2008. He has now played all three outdoor games the NHL has staged, as he was with the Oilers when they played Montreal in Edmonton in the 2003 Heritage Classic.

Conklin should be in net again tonight, as Chris Osgood remains questionable because of a strained groin. He has missed the last seven contests due to the aliment.

Detroit had lost five of its last six (1-3-2) on the road prior to the win at Wrigley Field. The Red Wings are 12-4-3 overall as the visiting club this year and return home for three straight starting Tuesday versus Columbus.

The Wild picked up a victory in their final contest of 2008, beating the Sharks by a 3-2 margin in overtime. Brent Burns scored 1:38 into overtime to give Minnesota a 4-9-1 mark in December.

Owen Nolan, who missed the last 10 games with a leg injury, returned and scored as did Krystofer Kolanos. Burns and Mikko Koivu each registered two helpers.

Niklas Backstrom was solid in making 32 saves to get the win for the Wild, who are 11-7-2 at home this season. Minnesota hits the road for four straight starting with Sunday's test in Colorado.

The Wild were without star winger Marian Gaborik for the third straight game as he continues to suffer from a groin injury and learned on Friday they will be without his services for up to 10 weeks after he undergoes left hip surgery.

The surgery is being performed to relieve chronic groin pain that has caused the winger to miss all but six games so far this season. Gaborik underwent minor arthroscopic surgery on his other hip following the end of last season, when the Slovakian star posted career highs of 42 goals and 83 points in 77 games.

Over seven-plus seasons with Minnesota, the pending free agent has amassed 209 goals and 210 assists in 491 career games.

Detroit won three of four versus the Wild last year, with the lone loss coming in a shootout. The Red Wings have won eight of their last 10 battles with Minnesota and are 6-0-1 with a tie in their last eight trips to Minnesota.

01/03 10:45:09 ET


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