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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, January 14th (All times eastern)

Detroit Red Wings (27-11-5) at Columbus Blue Jackets (20-20-3), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The last time the Red Wings and Blue Jackets faced each other in a home-and-home series the clubs were tied for the top seed in the Western Conference, but the teams have since gone in opposite directions.

The Blue Jackets will host the opener of this home-and-home set tonight at Nationwide Arena before battling the Red Wings tomorrow night in the Motor City.

The only two meetings so far this season between Columbus and the Wings came during a home-and-home set on Nov. 26 and 28. Prior to the start of that series, the Blue Jackets and Red Wings each had 28 points, and with a 14-6-0 record, Columbus was off to the franchise's best-ever start through the first 20 games of a season.

The Red Wings are 14-7-3 in 24 games dating back to the start of that home- and-home series, while Columbus has recorded just six wins in 23 games (6-14-3) over the same span. As a result, Detroit is second in the conference with 59 points, while Columbus is 13th in the West and 16 points behind the Wings.

Detroit has won five straight, eight of nine and 13 of the last 17 overall encounters with the Blue Jackets. The Red Wings have also taken two straight and four of their last five games in Columbus.

The Blue Jackets ended December with three straight wins, but have yet to win in 2011, going 0-5-0 since the start of January. Columbus has surrendered a whopping 24 goals during its five-game slide and is coming off Tuesday's 4-3 loss against visiting Phoenix.

Radim Vrbata and Derek Morris scored third-period goals, leading the Coyotes to the comeback win at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets held leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in the game, but in the end were left without a point to show for their effort.

Jared Boll, Rostislav Klesla and Kristian Huselius all scored for Columbus. Mathieu Garon allowed four goals on 28 shots in the setback, including the third-period tallies that gave Phoenix the win.

"We played a great game tonight, we should have won," Garon said. "We battled hard and we were close at the end. It's hard when you need desperate wins like that I think its tough for everybody."

Steve Mason is expected to start tonight after missing the last two games with a groin injury. Mason is just 4-7-1 in 12 career games against the Red Wings, but he also has a solid .923 save percentage and a pair of shutouts versus Detroit.

Rick Nash suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday's loss and Columbus' franchise player is questionable for tonight. Nash, who is the Blue Jackets' lone All-Star selection for the fifth straight season, leads his club in goals (20) and points (35) this season.

The Blue Jackets are 11-10-1 as the host this year and have split their last six games in Ohio.

Detroit had won three straight before getting dealt a close regulation loss Monday in Colorado. Matt Duchene had two goals and an assist to help lift the Avalanche to the 5-4 win at the Pepsi Center.

Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom each had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings. Jimmy Howard was charged with four goals on 10 shots before being pulled early in the first period.

Joey MacDonald, who was recalled by the team earlier on Monday after it was announced that goaltender Chris Osgood will miss the next 6-to-8 weeks with a groin injury, finished the game in net and stopped 15-of-16 shots.

"It was a disappointing start," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "We let Howie (Howard) down when we gave up the pucks. We still had every opportunity to win this game and just didn't get it done."

Howard has stellar career numbers against Columbus and is expected to get the start tonight. He has never lost in regulation to the Blue Jackets, posting a 7-0-1 record and a 1.39 goals-against average in nine career games against Columbus.

Tonight marks the end of a five-game road trip for the Red Wings, who had won six straight away from Detroit prior to Monday's setback in Denver. The Wings are 14-6-1 overall as the guest this season.

01/14 10:50:05 ET

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