Tonight the Wings and Stars will meet for the first time this season. Detroit won the 2003-2004 season series 3-0-1 and won the most recent game between these two teams, 3-0
on March 13th, 2004. The second game in that series is famous for this goal by Pavel Datsyuk
(.mpg file), one that put away a 6-2 win
on November 12th, 2003.
As noted by Kevin Palczynski in this week's Rinkside Ramblings
column on LetsGoWings.com
, the Wings had a bit of a lucky week last week, winning two games in which they were out-played for the majority of the time.
First, they faced the miserable Columbus Blue Jackets at home on Tuesday and came out of the gates looking pretty good. The Jackets then proceeded to outplay them in the second and third periods, negating Brendan Shanahan's go-ahead goal late in the third and forcing overtime. The Wings survived overtime and the game went to a shootout, their first ever. A combination of solid goaltending and offensive skill got them out of the shootout with a 4-3 win
The guys then traveled to Chicago to face the Blackhawks
on Friday night. They were, as Kevin puts it, "thoroughly outplayed for the first 59 minutes and 20 seconds of the game," but they managed to score two goals in the final minute and tie up the game, forcing overtime. It looked like we were headed to another shootout but Pavel Datsyuk's shot (apparently) beat the buzzer and the Wings won the game with a couple tenths of a second left on the clock.
Those two wins extended the Wings' win-streak to a whopping three games and helped them maintain their lead in the Central Division over their only competition: the Nashville Predators. They are third in the league, behind only Ottawa (53) and Buffalo (51, but 25 wins - tie-breaker) with 51 points and 24 wins.
The Stars' season started out a bit bumpy, with them going 6-5-1 through November 2nd. Since then, however, they have won pretty regularly and lead the Pacific Division with 47 points. They went 3-2-0 in their past five, with wins over Chicago, Columbus and St. Louis, and losses to Minnesota and Phoenix. They are coming off an easy 6-1 win over St. Louis last night and will look to continue their stretch of dominance over Central Division teams tonight against the Wings. Hopefully the Wings won't make it as easy for them as the Hawks, Jackets, and Blues did.
Chris Osgood will get another start tonight but may lose his job soon. The papers report that Manny Legace is targeting a December 31st comeback
from his knee injury.
Mikael Samuelsson will return from a leg bruise that kept him out of the Chicago game.
The Wings have been lucky lately but luck won't be enough tonight. They will need to play hard for most of the game, not the other way around. They'll be facing a very good goalie in Marty Turco and will need to play well defensively in case they don't get the puck past him too often. This will be their first test since returning to intra-conference play after their win in Tampa.