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Wild Travel To Motor City To Take On Red Wings

(Sports Network) – The first-place Detroit Red Wings will aim for a fifth straight victory tonight, when they welcome the Minnesota Wild for a battle at Joe Louis Arena.

In addition to winning four in a row, the Red Wings have also notched victories in seven of eight and 10 of their last 12 games. Detroit has a 12-3-1 record and leads the Central Division and Western Conference with 25 points despite being tied for the least amount of games played in the NHL this year.

Detroit’s winning streak has coincided with the start of the club’s current six-game homestand. The Red Wings have won five straight on home ice overall and have an impressive 8-1-1 mark at the Joe this season. Mike Babcock’s club will complete the residency Sunday against Calgary.

The Wings’ most recent win was Wednesday’s lopsided victory over a division rival. The sizzling Dan Cleary scored two goals, including the go-ahead tally that incited a third-period explosion, as Detroit beat the St. Louis Blues, 7-3.

Cleary extended his goal streak to six games. He has eight goals over that surge and nine on the season.

“I still don’t think we put together a full game yet,” Cleary said. “We’ve played good in stretches and been able to score some goals.”

Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader both registered a goal and one assist for the Red Wings, who scored four unanswered goals in the third period to break a 3-3 tie.

Brian Rafalski collected three assists for Detroit, and Jimmy Howard made 33 saves.

The Wild are not nearly as hot as the Red Wings, but do enter tonight’s test off the strength of consecutive victories. Minnesota, which is 5-2-0 in November, posted its latest win on Wednesday with an overtime victory against visiting Anaheim.

Antti Miettinen’s goal with 1:24 left in OT lifted Minnesota to a 2-1 win over the Ducks at Xcel Energy Center. Marco Scandella carried the puck down the right wing and sent a shot in on the Ducks’ net. Curtis McElhinney kicked the rebound right to Miettinen, who failed on his first attempt, but managed to redirect the puck in with his upper body.

Martin Havlat added a second-period score and Niklas Backstrom made 27 saves for the Wild.

“We played a good first period, The second period wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad,” said Wild head coach Todd Richards. “They were pushing it in the third period, but I thought we should have been the one to be pushing. We could have put the game out of reach, but we missed some opportunities.”

Minnesota will have defenseman Brent Burns back in the lineup tonight after he served a two-game suspension for hitting Florida’s Steve Bernier in the face with the butt-end of his stick.

The Wild are 3-3-1 on the road and have lost three of their last five tests away from St. Paul.

Detroit won three of four meetings with the Wild last season and the Red Wings have taken four of five and seven out of nine in the series. Minnesota has also dropped four straight and seven of the last eight meetings in Motown.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.