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RED WINGS (27-11-5) at BLUE JACKETS (20-20-3)
TV -- FS-D+ (HD), FS-O
Last 10 -- Detroit 6-3-1; Columbus 3-7-0
Season series -- This is the start of the second of two home-and-homes the Blue Jackets and Red Wings will have this season. The Wings swept the first, winning 2-1 at Columbus on Nov. 26 and then 4-2 in Detroit two days later. These two teams will travel to Detroit after the game for a Saturday night tilt at Joe Louis Arena.
Big Story -- The last time the Red Wings and Blue Jackets were getting ready to start a home-and-home series, they were tied atop the standings in the Western Conference. They've definitely gone their separate ways since. Detroit is still right up there, second behind Vancouver with 59 points, but Columbus has lost 16 of 23 going back to the first game of that home-and-home and is now 13th in the West with 43 points.
Red Wings -- Detroit has gotten offensive production from its third and fourth liners lately, which is huge considering Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary are on injured reserve along with Mike Modano. Darren Helm has stepped up with 8 points in the last seven games. He had 9 points in the first 36 games. Patrick Eaves has 7 goals in the last 10 games. He had 5 goals in his first 25 games. Of course, Henrik Zetterberg remains a mainstay. He's on an 11-game points streak.
"Ever since we lost a few guys, the third and fourth lines really have been stepping up and producing offensively," Zetterberg told the Detroit Free Press. "That's why we've been winning games."
Blue Jackets -- They've scored seven goals over their last two games with nothing to show for it. The Blue Jackets have lost five in a row. Their last win came on New Year's Eve, making them 0-for-2011, so to speak. Rick Nash continues to produce (4 points in the last four games, team-high 20 goals and 35 points), but it's the Jackets' defense and goaltending that is suffering. They've yielded 24 goals during this five-game losing streak. Goalie Mathieu Garon hasn't won a game since Dec. 21 and has given up 25 goals in his last five appearances.
"It's confidence," forward Kristian Huselius told the Columbus Dispatch. "When you lose games, it's the confidence you don't have, and that can hold you back."
Who's Hot -- Zetterberg is on fire with 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) during his points streak. Nicklas Lidstrom had 2 more points in Monday's loss at Colorado, giving him 41 for the season. He's tied with Atlanta's Dustin Byfuglien for most points among defensemen.
Injury Report -- Detroit will still be without Datsyuk, Modano, Cleary, Brad Stuart and Chris Osgood. … Columbus goalie Steve Mason, who has missed the last two games with a groin strain, could return Friday.
Stat Pack -- Columbus was giving up less than 2.4 goals per game and was 13-6-1 before playing that first home-and-home against the Red Wings. The Blue Jackets have allowed 85 goals in 23 games since (3.7 per game) and are 7-14-2 over the span.
Puck Drop -- "We need something, something big to get us going," Jackets coach Scott Arniel told the Columbus Dispatch. "Obviously it's going to be a big crowd (Friday), it's a good rivalry. There's no better way to jumpstart us out of the doldrums we're in. This would be the ideal game for us to come up big. (Detroit) certainly set us back after Thanksgiving. It's time to get going back the other way."