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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, December 4th (All times Eastern)
Philadelphia Flyers (12-13-2) at Detroit Red Wings (14-7-7), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The streaking Detroit Red Wings take aim at fifth consecutive victory when they host the Philadelphia Flyers in Wednesday's battle at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings were mired in a seven-game losing streak from Nov. 4-19, but they've since won five of six tilts. Detroit has posted wins in each of its last four outings to match a season-high winning streak, but the club will have to get by without its two best offensive players if it wants to make it five straight on Wednesday.
Detroit posted all four of its wins during the current hot streak without Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup and the star forward is expected to miss a fifth straight test tonight due to a concussion suffered on Nov. 23. Then, on Tuesday, the Red Wings announced that Henrik Zetterberg is joining Datsyuk on the shelf as the Swedish centerman is expected to miss at least the next two weeks with a herniated disc in his back.
Zetterberg is leading Detroit in scoring this season with 30 points on 11 goals and 19 assists. Datsyuk, meanwhile, is first in goals (12) and second in points (23).
Even without Datsyuk and Zetterberg in the lineup, the Red Wings have a considerable amount of series history going in their favor on Wednesday. Detroit is 16-1-0 with two ties in its last 19 regular-season home games against Philadelphia and has taken two of three and nine of the past 15 encounters overall.
The Flyers visited Detroit earlier this season and were handed a 5-2 setback. Zetterberg scored twice in the third period, while Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall each added a goal and two helpers in the win.
Detroit is coming off Sunday's emotional road win in Ottawa, as Drew Miller scored twice to help the Red Wings record a 4-2 decision in Daniel Alfredsson's long-awaited return to his former hockey home. A former Ottawa captain, Alfredsson spent his first 17 seasons as a member of the Senators before leaving Canada's capital to sign a free-agent deal with Detroit this past offseason.
Alfredsson picked up an assist and an empty-net goal in 16:33 of playing time Sunday in front of a sellout crowd, which gave him a standing ovation during a pre-game video tribute.
"The result makes it a lot sweeter," Alfredsson said. "But if we would have lost, for me personally, I think it would still have been a night I'll always remember."
Alfredsson was held off the scoreboard in his first game against the Sens, a 6-1 loss at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 23. An injury then caused him to miss another 4-2 home defeat against the Sens on Nov. 23.
Johan Franzen also lit the lamp on Sunday and Jonas Gustavsson made 30 saves to record the win.
Jimmy Howard is expected to get the call in net for Detroit on Wednesday. He is 1-1-0 with a 3.00 goals against average in two career games against the Flyers.
Philadelphia will try to bounce back tonight after having a two-game win streak halted in Monday's shutout loss at Minnesota. It marked the third time the Flyers were blanked this season and the first time since a 3-0 setback against New Jersey on Nov. 7.
Josh Harding made 21 saves to subdue the Flyers' offense on Monday, while Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle scored 57 seconds apart in the third period to account for the 2-0 margin.
Ray Emery finished with 19 saves for Philadelphia, which has split its first two stops on a six-game road trip. The Flyers fell to 5-6-2 as the road team this season.
"Their game plan is to limit chances against. It's kind of like a New Jersey- type game, where you just got to stay patient with them and not give them anything," Emery said.
The Flyers played Monday without forward Vincent Lecavalier, who is dealing with back spasms and could sit out a second straight tilt tonight. Lecavalier is in his first season with Philadelphia and the former longtime Tampa Bay Lightning star is leading the Flyers with nine goals.
Steve Mason expects to start in net for Philadelphia on Wednesday. The former Columbus netminder has played in 20 career games -- all starts -- against Detroit and is 8-10-2 with a 2.84 GAA in those outings.
12/04 10:31:30 ET
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