NHL Preview: Detroit Red Wings at Columbus Blue Jackets
The Red Wings go for their sixth straight win and try to continue their dominance over the Blue Jackets when the teams meet Friday at Nationwide Arena.
Detroit (30-12-5) has posted five straight wins, including a 5-3 victory over Nashville Wednesday in a matchup of the Central Division's top two teams. The Red Wings are outscoring teams 22-10 during their run.
Pavel Datsyuk leads Detroit with 45 points while Henrik Zetterberg is second with 40, and they have fueled the Red Wings' recent success. Datsyuk had four assists against the Predators, and has three goals and 14 points during the Red Wings' winning streak.
Zetterberg, a reserve on the Western Conference team for the Wednesday's All-Star game in Dallas, extended his points streak to six games with two goals and an assist against the Predators. He has three goals and nine assists during his run.
"They are our offensive power,'' said Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek, who made 14 saves Wednesday. "Pavel, he can really prepare the chances, Hank, the same thing. The last few games, they're playing very well.''
Hasek has been in net for four of those wins, posting a 1.72 goals-against average. The six-time Vezina Trophy winner has won four straight meetings against the Blue Jackets, recording a 2.08 GAA.
Hasek enters this contest with a Western Conference-leading 2.00 GAA, trailing only New Jersey's Martin Brodeur (1.99).
Detroit has taken three of the four matchups from Columbus this season, including a 7-4 victory on Dec. 28 to improve to 10-1-1 in the last 12 meetings. Right wing Daniel Cleary has seven goals and two assists versus Columbus this season.
The Red Wings have won seven of their last games in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets (17-25-5) are taking the ice for their last game before the All-Star break and trying to bounce back from a 4-0 loss to Nashville on Thursday. Columbus outshot the Predators 33-26, but still lost for the fifth time in six games.
The Blue Jackets have been shutout an NHL-worst 11 times - five more than any other team. Their sputtering offense couldn't capitalize on the return of second-leading scorer Rick Nash, who missed five games with a back injury.
"It's plain and simple,'' said Nash, who hasn't scored in his last eight games, one shy of his longest drought of the season. "They stick to their game plan, and we kind of wander off.''
Nash is headed to the All-Star game for the second time in his career.
by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us
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