(Preview from The Sports Network)
The Columbus Blue Jackets had their longest winning streak of the season halted by Detroit on Friday, but they'll have a chance to split the home-and-home series with the Red Wings tonight at Joe Louis Arena.
The Blue Jackets had won five in a row prior to dropping a close decision Friday night against the visiting Red Wings.
It was the fourth straight win in the series for Detroit, which has won seven of eight and 12 of its last 16 games against the Blue Jackets. Columbus has also lost three straight and seven of its last eight games in the Motor City.
Despite Friday's setback, the Blue Jackets still enter tonight just two points behind the Red Wings for the Central Division lead. Detroit is also first in the Western Conference with 30 points.
Jimmy Howard stood tall for the Red Wings in Friday's 2-1 regulation victory at Nationwide Arena. Howard made 34 stops and improved to 6-0-1 in his career against the Blue Jackets. Detroit's No. 1 netminder also has a 1.31 goals- against average and .952 save percentage in eight career games versus Columbus.
"[Howard] was really sharp," said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. "Both goaltenders had some work tonight, some quality chances, and both guys were up to the challenge."
Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula scored for the Red Wings, who had lost two of three before Friday's win, but are now 9-2-1 in their last 12 games. Filppula also added an assist in the victory.
However, it was not all good news for Detroit on Friday as Red Wings forward Mike Modano suffered a lacerated tendon in his wrist in the victory. Modano, who suffered the injury when he was cut by a skate blade, underwent surgery on Saturday morning to repair the damage and there is no timetable for his return.
The 40-year-old Modano signed with his hometown club Detroit in the offseason after spending his entire career with the Dallas/Minnesota franchise. In 20 games this season for the Red Wings, he has two goals and six assists.
Antoine Vermette scored the lone goal on Friday for Columbus, which was trying to match a club record with a sixth straight victory. The Blue Jackets won six straight during the 2005-06 season, but that, too, was ended by the Red Wings.
Steve Mason stopped 30-of-32 shots in defeat.
"I hope our confidence is still up there," said Columbus head coach Scott Arniel. "It should be, because we went toe-to-toe and I thought we had lots of opportunities to win that game."
Blue Jackets defenseman Marc Methot has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury and is questionable for this evening's tilt. Methot has 10 assists to lead all Columbus blueliners in scoring this season.
Columbus is 8-1-0 on the road this year, while the Red Wings have a solid 9-1-2 mark as the host.