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Wings hope to extend winning streak to five

Monday, 12.31.2007 / 12:53 PM / Preview
Associated Press
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Wings hope to extend winning streak to five

Detroit, MI. - Playing without two top goal scorers would leave most teams desperate for offense. All that has done for the Wings is prove just how much depth they have.

The Red Wings look to stretch their latest win streak to five on Monday night when they meet the Central Division rival St. Louis Blues for the fifth time this season.

Despite playing without Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom, Detroit (29-7-3) won the final four games on a five-game road trip to increase its league-best point total to 61. The Red Wings hardly missed the high-scoring forwards, outscoring opponents 17-5 in those four victories.

Zetterberg, who is day-to-day with back spasms, leads the team and ranks among the league leaders with 50 points. Holmstrom, currently nursing a knee injury, is second on the Wings with 17 goals.

Detroit has won 14 of its last 16 games (14-1-1), losing only once in regulation since Nov. 22. The Red Wings have scored an NHL-high 141 goals while allowing a league-low 86.

Pavel Datsyuk picked up most of the slack Saturday, contributing the tiebreaking goal with just over four minutes left in the third period and two assists in a 4-2 victory over Phoenix.

"We have some guys out and I knew I had to step up," said Datsyuk, second on the team with 49 points, including three goals and 10 assists in his last eight games.

"(Datsyuk) is playing at another level," coach Mike Babcock said. "He usually plays against the opposition's best line, and right now, he's outplaying them."

Also stepping up in Zetterberg and Holmstrom's absence is center Valtteri Filppula, who has six goals and two assists in his past six contests. Captain and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom has at least one point in seven of his last eight games, tallying one goal and nine assists.

Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek have alternated starts in net lately, meaning Hasek is next in line to start.

Hasek is 7-0-1 with one shutout and a 1.72 goals-against average in his last eight starts. He did, however, have one of his worst games of the season in a 4-3 loss at St. Louis on Nov. 13, allowing four goals on only 12 shots before he was pulled in the second period.

Detroit has only seven regulation losses this season, but two of them are to St. Louis (18-14-4).

The Blues ended the Red Wings' 12-game point streak on Dec. 20, scoring twice in the third period in a 3-2 home victory.

St. Louis followed that with a win at Boston, but has since gone winless in a season high-tying four straight (0-2-2).

Paul Kariya recorded his 10th career hat trick, including the tying goal with 11 seconds left in regulation, as the Blues settled for one point in a 5-4 shootout loss Saturday at Dallas.

"Anytime you can contribute, it's nice," said Kariya, who hadn't scored a goal in his previous nine games. "I wasn't playing that well, especially the last four or five games. It was nice to help the team get a point."

Center Andy McDonald, acquired from Anaheim on Dec. 14, missed his second straight game Saturday with a pulled chest muscle.

The Red Wings avenged their loss to the Blues with a 5-0 victory at St. Louis on Wednesday when Osgood stopped 20 shots in his 45th career shutout.

Detroit has at least one point in seven straight home games (5-0-2) against St. Louis.

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