Red Wings-Flyers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 06, 2012
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Injuries are mounting for the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers. Those absences may have contributed to the Red Wings losing sole possession of the Central Division lead. With goaltender Jimmy Howard's status unclear, Detroit attempts to regain first place in the division by sweeping the season series from the Flyers on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center. The Red Wings (43-20-3) are tied with St. Louis for the Central lead after a 2-3-1 stretch. Part of those struggles could be attributed to a slew of injured players, including left wing Pavel Datsyuk, captain Niklas Lidstrom and defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl. "I think that's something we have to fight our way through," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "Injuries come throughout the year." The Flyers (36-21-7) are also dealing with a rash of injuries, as defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros and left wing James van Riemsdyk are sidelined. Philadelphia is fifth in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of sixth-place New Jersey. Detroit suffered another blow Sunday, as Howard left after the first period of a 2-1 loss to Chicago. It was the Red Wings' third home defeat in four games after winning an NHL-record 23 in a row at Joe Louis Arena. Howard has a lower-body injury, and there's no timetable for his return. "It's nothing serious and it's still day-to-day," Howard told the team's official website. "Just get treatment here and get back as soon as possible. Nothing major showed." Howard, who missed eight games earlier this season with a broken finger, is 33-13-2 with a 2.05 goals-against average and six shutouts. He lost 3-2 in his only career start against the Flyers on Jan. 2, 2011. If Howard is unable to play, Joey MacDonald would get the nod. He stopped 12 of 13 shots to take the loss Sunday but is 7-2-1 with a 1.69 GAA in 10 games. That includes a 26-save effort in a 4-3 home win over Philadelphia on Feb. 12. Henrik Zetterberg, whose 54 points are second on the team to Datsyuk's 59, had one goal and two assists in that meeting, giving him six of each in eight career games against the Flyers. The center was kept off the scoresheet by the Blackhawks after totaling two goals and six assists in the previous three contests. Philadelphia followed Thursday's 6-3 win over the New York Islanders with a 1-0 victory at Washington on Sunday. Rookie Eric Wellwood scored 47 seconds after coach Peter Laviolette called a timeout in the second period and gave the Flyers an earful for their sluggish play. "We were watching a little bit too much," Laviolette said. "It was more just to get them back on track than anything else. I thought they responded really well after that. Not just the goal, but the rest of the period." The Flyers are in position for their first three-game winning streak since a seven-game run Dec. 2-15. Ilya Bryzgalov may be back in net after stopping 34 shots against the Capitals following a 21-save effort versus New York. "It seems like he's really starting to feel comfortable," Laviolette said, "but (Sunday) was the most comfortable he's looked." Bryzgalov hasn't faced the Red Wings since compiling a 4.36 GAA with Phoenix while being swept in the opening round of the playoffs last season. Prior to Tuesday's game, the Flyers will retire Mark Howe's No. 2. Howe, a Hall of Fame defenseman, spent 10 seasons with the Flyers from 1982-92 before playing his last three in the NHL in his hometown of Detroit.
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