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GAME: Detroit Red Wings (39-17-10-2) at Columbus Blue Jackets (20-37-8-4).
TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.
The loss of newly acquired center Robert Lang will be softened a bit for the Detroit Red Wings because they are welcoming back goaltender Curtis Joseph.
Joseph is expected to make his return to the net when the Western Conference-leading Red Wings visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Lang, acquired from Washington on Feb. 27, will be sidelined up to four weeks with a cracked rib suffered in Monday's 1-1 with Tampa Bay. Lang, among the NHL's leading scorers with 78 points, suffered the injury after absorbing a hit in the first period.
In less than a week, the high-powered Red Wings have seen their roster diminished by the losses of Lang, Pavel Datsyuk (ankle), Kris Draper (shoulder), Mathieu Dandenault (foot) and Nicklas Kronwall (leg).
"It was a normal bodycheck," Lang said. "I hit the seam (in the boards) and cracked a rib."
Joseph sprained his right ankle Feb. 11 against San Jose, and was expected to be out for up to 10 days. But the Red Wings brought him back slowly, activating him Monday to serve as Manny Legace's backup against the Lightning.
Joseph, who is 13-9-2 with a 2.44 goals-against average in 24 games, had surgery on Aug. 19 to remove bone spurs from the same ankle.
Detroit holds a one-point lead over Colorado for the best record in the West. The Wings are three points behind Tampa Bay (93) for the NHL lead.
The Blue Jackets, far out of the running for a postseason spot, have lost three straight, including Monday's 4-1 defeat to Carolina.
Columbus ended a scoreless streak of 114 minutes, 23 seconds when Rick Nash scored his NHL-leading 37th goal with 7:42 remaining. It was Nash's 19th power-play goal this season, also extending his league lead.
The Blue Jackets traded center Lasse Pirjeta to Pittsburgh for center Brian Holzinger just prior to Tuesday's trade deadline. Holzinger, a native of Parma, Ohio, won the 1995 Hobey Baker Award at Bowling Green as college hockey's top player.
STANDINGS (through March 9): Red Wings - 90 points, 1st place, Central Division. Blue Jackets - 52 points, 4th place, 38 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Lang, 29 goals, 49 assists and 78 points; Brendan Shanahan, 94 PIM. Blue Jackets - Nash, 37 goals and 51 points; David Vyborny, 30 assists; Jody Shelley, 191 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 9): Red Wings - Power play: 21.0 percent (58 for 276), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.7 percent (229 for 264), 1st. Blue Jackets - Power play: 15.0 percent (52 for 347), 23rd. Penalty killing: 83.4 percent (189 for 277), 20th.
GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Joseph (13-9-2, 2 SO, 2.44 GAA); Legace (18-7-5, 1, 1.94). Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (17-29-7, 4, 2.56); Fred Brathwaite (3-10-1, 0, 3.36).
SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 19; Red Wings, 5-1. At Detroit, Legace stopped 37 shots, including 18 in the first period, and Brett Hull scored two goals for the Red Wings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings - 13-12-6-2 on the road; Blue Jackets - 15-15-4-2 at home.
Ticket Info: 313.471.7575
General Info: 313.471.6606