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The Detroit Red Wings have a sizable cushion in the Central Division and the Western Conference lead is in range, but inconsistent goaltending has plagued them this season. Chris Mason's turnaround, meanwhile, has the St. Louis Blues in the thick of the playoff race.
The Red Wings will look to recover Tuesday night from their most lopsided defeat this season by winning a fourth straight over the St. Louis Blues, who seek a season-high fourth consecutive victory.
In an 8-0 loss Saturday night in Nashville, Ty Conklin gave up four goals in the first 9:51, and Chris Osgood allowed four more on 14 shots for Detroit's worst defensive performance since Jan. 4, 2007 - a 9-4 loss at San Jose.
"I don't think we lost our focus, but I don't think we responded as a team," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said.
While they have scored a league-best 228 goals, the Red Wings (41-14-8) rank in the bottom half of the league in giving up 2.94 per game.
Conklin, who had a six-game win streak snapped Saturday, has allowed four or more goals in eight of his 32 appearances this season. Osgood's poor play led to a 10-day mental break, but he responded with a 2-1 win Friday night over Los Angeles in his return.
With his team trailing San Jose by three points in the West and with an 11-point lead over Chicago in the Central, Wings coach Mike Babcock has no clear choice for the rest of this season, but he might not go wrong with either goalie Tuesday given their play against St. Louis.
Conklin has a 3-0-0 career record with a 2.10 goals-against average, and Osgood is 7-1-2 with a 1.71 GAA and two shutouts in his last 10 appearances versus the Blues.
With Conklin in net, the Red Wings won 4-3 in St. Louis on Oct. 22 and 4-1 at home Dec. 23. Osgood started the previous matchup - a 4-3 shootout win Feb. 2 at Joe Louis Arena, which snapped a season-high five-game skid.
In taking five of the last six meetings, Detroit has scored 20 goals with 11 in three straight road wins.
However, the Red Wings could face one of the league's hottest goaltenders in Mason, who has allowed a goal apiece in winning four of his last five starts.
Following a 3-13-1 start this season with a 3.14 GAA, Mason is 11-3-4 with a 1.56 GAA in 18 consecutive appearances.
Mason has lost three straight against the Red Wings but has faced them once this season, subbing for Manny Legace in the Feb. 2 defeat. After Legace gave up three second-period goals, Mason turned away all 13 shots to help St. Louis tie it at 3-all before falling in the shootout.
He has started 13 in a row since that loss and stopped 27 shots Saturday night in a 3-1 win in Phoenix.
"I'm calm, relaxed and having fun," said Mason, who has won three straight. "I'm letting the game come to me, and that did not happen earlier. We have great chemistry and that's a major factor in our success right now."
A 6-1-1 record in their last eight and a point in five straight games has the formerly last-place Blues (28-26-8) three points behind Anaheim and Edmonton, who are tied for seventh in the West.
While St. Louis has scored eight times in the last four games, Jay McClement is on a career-best three-game goal streak.
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