RED WINGS (21-8-4) at BLUES (16-12-5)
TV -- FS-Detroit (HD), FS-Midwest (HD)
Last 10 -- Detroit 4-4-2; St. Louis 4-4-2
Season series -- It's the third of six meetings this season between these Central Division rivals. Detroit took the first two on home ice, but the next three will be in St. Louis before the finale back at Joe Louis Arena at the end of March. Danny Cleary started a four-goal third period outburst with his second of the night in a 7-3 win on Nov. 17, then Nicklas Lidstrom recorded the first hat trick of his career in a 5-2 victory on Dec. 15.
Big story -- The Red Wings reclaimed the Western Conference lead with a dramatic 5-4 overtime win over the Canucks on Wednesday night, but they paid a heavy price. Star center Pavel Datsyuk left the game in the first period with what was later revealed to be a broken right hand. Afterward, coach Mike Babcock estimated Datsyuk would be lost to the team for "about four weeks."
"It's unfortunate. There's nothing we can do about it," Babcock said. "We have to find a way to dig in, just like we did tonight to get the team gunning, and (there's) more opportunity for someone else."
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"It was nice to do that, change-up go in," he said. "It wasn't the hardest shot, but it found a way home."
Blues -- This is the start of a five-game homestand that takes St. Louis into the new year. After beginning the season on a tear at the Scottrade Center, the Blues are just 2-4-1 in their last seven on home ice. However, they're coming off a 4-2 win over the Thrashers in Atlanta on Tuesday, a game in which Ty Conklin outdueled his former teammate, Chris Mason. Conklin stopped 37 shots as Jaroslav Halak got the evening off, and the Blues got a goal and an assist each from Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Sobotka.
"We played a solid road game," Conklin said. "We didn't sit back. We were solid defensively. We didn't give them too much."
Who's hot -- Defenseman Brian Rafalski has been piling up the assists for the Red Wings, with six of them during a four-game points streak. ... Alex Steen has goals in consecutive games and three of the last four for the Blues.
Injury report -- In addition to Datsyuk going down, Detroit forward Mike Modano (wrist) is on injured reserve. … St. Louis forwards David Perron (concussion), TJ Oshie (ankle), Andy McDonald (concussion) and Dave Scatchard (lower body) are on injured reserve.
Stat pack -- The Red Wings are 4-for-10 on the power play in their two wins over the Blues this season. ... St. Louis defenseman Roman Polak has an assist while averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time in his first two games back following wrist surgery that had sidelined him since late October.
Puck drop -- Detroit moved back in front of Dallas by one point in the West standings. Holding the rest of the conference at bay won't get any easier with Datsyuk sidelined, so pulling out games like Wednesday's becomes all the more important.
"It was huge. You look at the standings, everything's gotten pretty condensed here so every point matters right now," said goalie Jimmy Howard, who stopped 35 shots in the victory.
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