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Given each team's recent success, it's likely not surprising that the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks have played some competitive games over the past few seasons.
The first matchup at Rogers Arena this season figures to provide more of the same Wednesday night with both teams among the hottest in the league.
The Red Wings (21-10-1) and Canucks (20-11-2) have combined to appear in three of the last four Stanley Cup finals, and most of their recent games have carried some playoff-like tension.
Fourteen of the past 20 have been decided by one goal or a shootout with five ending in overtime. Detroit prevailed 2-1 in a shootout during its previous visit to Vancouver on Jan. 8, as Jiri Hudler beat Roberto Luongo in the extra session and Jimmy Howard stopped all three attempts.
Howard beat the Canucks again Oct. 13 at Joe Louis Arena by making 25 saves in a 2-0 win. With his help, the Red Wings have won 16 of 21 since an early six-game skid and five of their last six.
They kicked off a four-game road trip with a 3-2 win over Edmonton on Monday. Drew Miller provided the go-ahead score in the third period, his fourth goal in five games, as Detroit improved to 8-8-0 away from home.
"It's nice to be back to .500," forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "We didn't have our best game. They were skating a lot better than we did. But we kept grinding away and that's important to do on the road. It's a good start to this road trip as we have two more before we go home for Christmas."
The Red Wings, though, might face a difficult time improving that record as Vancouver is 11-2-1 in its last 14 and has won a season-high three in a row at home.
The Canucks earned the latest win there Monday by beating Northwest Division-leading Minnesota 4-0.
Luongo recorded his first shutout in Vancouver's return from a five-game trip. Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin provided three points apiece and Alexandre Burrows scored for the third time in as many games.
"It was a tough game after coming off a long road trip, so it was a big win for us," Henrik Sedin said.
Henrik Sedin has been one of the most productive players in the league this month with one goal and 14 assists in nine games and is again challenging for the NHL points lead with 39. Daniel Sedin has seven goals and six assists in the past nine contests, giving him 38 points.
Pavel Datsyuk has led the way lately for the Red Wings with eight goals and 15 assists over his last 16 games. Zetterberg is on a season-high six-game point streak in which he's totaled three goals and five assists.
Luongo, 6-0-1 with a 1.38 goals-against average in his last seven games, might get the chance to try to stop them. He's allowed one goal in each of his past two matchups with the Red Wings, but it was Cory Schneider who got the nod in October and made his first start against Detroit.
Howard is 12-2-0 in his last 14 games and has a 1.91 GAA on the season. He's 2-1-0 with a 0.98 GAA in his last three matchups with Vancouver.
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