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Beating the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena has been a difficult task for opponents for many years. That's certainly been the case for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Red Wings look for their fourth straight victory overall as they open a three-game homestand Tuesday night against the Blue Jackets, who have just five all-time wins in Detroit.
Photos: @ Red Wings (11-28-08)
Video: @ Red Wings (11-28-08)
The Wings (26-7-5) began 2008-09 with back-to-back losses at Joe Louis Arena and were 4-2-2 in their first eight games there entering a Nov. 28 matchup with visiting Columbus (18-17-4).
Detroit won 5-3 for its fourth consecutive victory in the series and third straight win over the Blue Jackets at Joe Louis. Columbus, meanwhile, fell to 5-16-2 in Detroit since its inaugural season of 2000-01.
The victory sparked the Red Wings' current hot streak at home, as they've gone 9-1-0 in their last 10 in Detroit. The Wings have won their last four home games, recording two shutouts and outscoring opponents 20-5 in that span.
Detroit comes in looking to extend an overall three-game win streak, having swept a home-and-home set with Chicago before Saturday's 3-2 shootout victory at Minnesota.
Pavel Datsyuk scored the lone goal in the tiebreaker for Detroit, which received a boost from the return of Chris Osgood. After missing seven games with a sore groin, he made 33 saves through overtime before stopping all three shootout attempts.
Osgood won for the fourth time in five starts after going 9-1-4 with a 3.19 goals-against average in his first 15 outings.
"We need (Osgood) to be on top of his game and get a good rotation going this week and get both goalies playing the best they can and you'll see our goals against go way down," said coach Mike Babcock, whose team has surrendered 2.92 goals per game this season to rank in the bottom half of the league.
Osgood made 13 saves against Columbus in November, and is 14-6-3 with a 2.33 GAA in 25 career matchups. Backup Ty Conklin, who went 5-1-1 with a 2.13 GAA in Osgood's absence, is 2-0-0 with two ties and a 2.64 GAA in four games versus the Blue Jackets.
One of them will face a Columbus team that had its four-game winning streak snapped with a 5-2 loss at St. Louis on Saturday. The Blue Jackets fell to 3-1-0 on a season-high six-game road trip that concludes Friday in Washington.
Rookie Steve Mason, who leads the league with a 1.81 GAA, gave up all five goals in the defeat after allowing one during the winning streak. He blanked the other three opponents to tie Vancouver's Roberto Luongo with the NHL shutout lead with five.
"I just wasn't very good," Mason said. "I was giving up rebounds, a couple of five-hole goals, so it wasn't a very good game by myself."
Columbus also allowed St. Louis to convert four of its nine power-play chances. The Blue Jackets had killed off 24 consecutive penalties over the previous six games, and now oppose a Red Wings club that's averaging 3.58 goals and has converted a league-leading 27.7 percent of its man-advantage chances.
Datsyuk paces Detroit with 26 assists and 42 points, and has four goals and 10 assists during an eight-game point streak versus Columbus.
The Blue Jackets are led by Rick Nash, who tops the team with 17 goals and 39 points. He has two goals and eight assists during a five-game point streak, and has 15 goals and 16 assists in 33 matchups with Detroit.