DEVILS (46-28-6) at RED WINGS (48-27-5)
TV: MSG PLUS (HD), FS-D (HD)
Last 10: New Jersey 6-3-1; Detroit 4-4-2
Season Series: This will be the lone meeting between these teams this season. Detroit won both games against New Jersey in 2010-11 by scores of 4-1 at the Prudential Center and 3-1 at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings lead the all-time regular-season series 40-34-1 with 11 ties and are 6-0-1 in the last seven meetings.
Big Story: Both teams have already clinched playoff appearances in their respective conferences and now it's all about where they will be seeded. The Devils have the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference locked up, but also have an outside chance of catching the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers, who are three points ahead. The Red Wings are coming off their first victory of the season at Scottrade Center in St. Louis after beating the Blues 3-2 in a shootout on Wednesday. Detroit (101 points) moved back into fourth place in the Western Conference with the win, one point ahead of the Nashville Predators (100) and two in front of the sixth-place Chicago Blackhawks (98). Chicago plays at Minnesota on Thursday and then comes to Detroit for both teams' regular-season finale.
Devils: It wasn't pretty, but the last two periods of Tuesday night's 3-1 victory against the New York Islanders was a perfect example of the style the Devils want to employ in the playoffs. They kept everything to the outside in the defensive zone and didn't relinquish a shot on goal in the third until there was less than five minutes left to play. Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk each scored goals for New Jersey, but it was the defensive effort by the Devils over final two thirds of the game that stood out.
"You have to use these games to fine-tune everything and play with the urgency you want to have," goalie Johan Hedberg said after stopping 19 shots for the win. "If the other team doesn't show up and do that, it's obviously tougher, but you have to keep doing it and doing it. Even though it might get boring at times you have to plug away. We did that and that shows we're on the right path."
Red Wings: It looked like Detroit was headed for a third loss this season in St. Louis on Wednesday night when the Blues took a 2-0 lead midway through the third period on goals by David Perron and Andy McDonald. The line of Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi had other ideas. Datsyuk and Zetterberg set Franzen up with his 27th and 28th goals in a span of 2:15 to tie it and end St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott's streak just shy of four straight starts. After neither team scored in overtime, Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard made three saves in the shootout and Bertuzzi ended it by beating Elliott with a high backhander.
Who's Hot: Zach Parise has recorded points in five of the last six games (three goals and three assists), while Kovalchuk has scored goals in three straight games for the Devils … Franzen's two goals on Wednesday night were his first in four games back after a five-game absence because of back spasms.
Injury Report: New Jersey's Henrik Tallinder (blood clot) is still out, while fourth-line center Jacob Josefson fractured his wrist against the Isles on Tuesday. David Clarkson also missed the Islanders game with a lower-body injury, but practiced on Wednesday and is expected to play against the Wings. … Center Darren Helm (sprained knee), Joey MacDonald (back) and Patrick Eaves (concussion) are out for the Red Wings.
Stat Pack: The Red Wings are now 9-2 in shootouts this season, with Howard going 7-1 and both Bertuzzi (5 for 9) and Datsyuk (5 for 10) scoring on at least 50 percent of their attempts. Bertuzzi has four deciding goals this season and 10 in his career. … The Devils lead the NHL in shootout wins with 11.
Puck Drop: Wednesday night's win pushed the Red Wings past the 100-point plateau in a season for an NHL record 12th straight time, beginning with the 1999-00 campaign. The Montreal Canadiens own the next highest streak of 100-point seasons with eight in a row from 1974-75 to 1981-82.
"I just think we try to do things right," Bertuzzi said of Detroit's 100-point streak. "We try to play the game the right way. Obviously [owners Mike and Marian Ilitch] and [general manager] Kenny Holland are doing a tremendous job bringing people who they drafted and all that. It's been a staple of our organization to be competitive every year."
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