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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, April 9th (All times Eastern)

Detroit Red Wings (38-27-14) at Pittsburgh Penguins (50-24-5), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings can clinch their 23rd straight trip to the playoffs when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for Wednesday's battle at Consol Energy Center.

The Red Wings, who last missed the playoffs in 1990, need to gain just one point from Wednesday's game to qualify for the postseason yet again.

With 90 points, Detroit is five ahead of ninth-seeded Washington and six clear of New Jersey. All three teams have three games left in the regular season, and both the Capitals and Devils are idle on Wednesday. The Red Wings also are a point ahead of Columbus for the first of the Eastern Conference's two wild card playoff spots. The Blue Jackets play Wednesday in Dallas.

The Red Wings have won five of their last six games to solidify their postseason chances. After dropping the opener of a three-game road trip Saturday in Montreal, Detroit bounced back with Tuesday's 4-2 victory in Buffalo.

Darren Helm, David Legwand and Pavel Datsyuk scored third-period goals for the Red Wings in the win over the Sabres. Brendan Smith also tallied for Detroit, while Jimmy Howard backed up his offense with 25 saves.

Detroit head coach Mike Babcock won his 414th game with the franchise, vaulting him over Jack Adams for tops on the all-time list.

"The win tonight is way more important than that," Babcock said.

Detroit improved to 20-15-4 as the visiting team this season after Tuesday's win. The club will host Carolina in its final home game of the regular season on Friday before completing its schedule Sunday in St. Louis.

Pittsburgh is wrapping up the regular season on a three-game homestand that begins tonight. The club already has sealed up the Metropolitan Division title and is locked into the second seed in the East. All that is left for the Penguins is to await the outcome of the other playoff races, which will determine who Pittsburgh hosts in the opening round of the postseason.

The Penguins have won four of their last six games and are coming off Sunday's 3-2 shootout win in Colorado. Pittsburgh outlasted the Avalanche despite playing without captain Sidney Crosby, fellow forward Chris Kunitz and defensemen Olli Maatta and Brooks Orpik due to various injuries.

Pittsburgh could get some of those players back tonight, and the club also will see defenseman Kris Letang make his return to the lineup after suffering a stroke in January.

Letang has missed 26 games since last playing on Jan. 27 against Buffalo. The 26-year-old blueliner had been cleared by doctors to resume all physical activities in late March and Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero said it was up to Letang when he wanted to come back.

"Kris was cleared by doctors and it was his choice on when to return," Shero said. "He's been bugging me for a while to play"

Letang had battled injuries this season before suffering the stroke in January, but still has managed to post 10 goals and eight assists in just 34 games this season. He went on blood thinners following the stroke, but was taken off them when he returned to practice last month.

Meanwhile, Crosby, Kunitz, Maatta and Orpik all practiced on Tuesday and are questionable for Wednesday's game. Even if all four of those players return tonight, Pittsburgh will still be without several injured players, including forward Evgeni Malkin.

Brandon Sutter supplied both regulation goals for the Penguins in Sunday's win, giving him 13 tallies on the season. Jussi Jokinen netted the lone shootout goal in the second round, as the Penguins picked up the win at Pepsi Center.

Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 39 saves to earn the victory.

The Pens and Red Wings have split a pair of meetings in 2013-14, but Wednesday's matchup marks the first encounter this season in Pittsburgh. Detroit has fared well recently in the Steel City, going 3-1-1 in the last five encounters at Consol Energy Center.

Pittsburgh is 27-9-2 as the host this season.

04/09 10:59:36 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHA 104
LAL 103
Final
GT 49
UNC 81
Final
CLEM 61
NCSU 66
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
CHA
 
8:00pm Tonight
DUKE
WAKE
 
Final
DET 15
BAL 2
 
Final
MIA 7
MIAFLA 1
 
Final
PHI 5
NYY 5
 
Final
BOS 2
NEASTERN 1
 
Final
TOR 7
PIT 8
 
Final
CIN 10
CLE 0
 
Final
OAK 9
SFG 4
 
Final
BOS 1
BOSTONCOLL 0
 
Final
ARI 4
ASU 0
 
1:05pm Today
BAL
DET
 
1:05pm Today
ATL
NYM
 
1:05pm Today
NYY
PHI
 
1:05pm Today
PIT
TOR
 
3:05pm Today
LOS
CWS
 
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CLE
CIN
 
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TEX
KAN
 
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SFG
OAK
 
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SEA
SDP
 
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MIL
WMIL
 
3:10pm Today
COL
ARI
 
7:05pm Tonight
MIN
UMIN
 
Final
CLE 110
BOS 79
Final
CHA 104
LAL 103
Final
NYK 86
SAC 124
Final
ATL 104
HOU 96
Final
MEM 82
UTA 93
Final
CHI 97
WAS 92
Final
DEN 106
MIL 95
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
PHO
 
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
CHA
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
CLE
 
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BOS
UTA
 
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MIN
DEN
 
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NOP
DET
 
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MIA
LAL
 
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HOU
MEM
 
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OKC
PHI
 
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SAN
SAC
 
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GSW
MIL
 
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LAC
POR
 
Final
UMO 70
AKR 63
 
Final
NAVY 56
ARMY 52
 
Final
BST 60
EMICH 67
 
Final
BUT 54
GEOR 60
Final
IND 63
IOWA 77
Final
FLGC 81
JVU 63
 
Final
USCU 90
KNST 54
 
Final
BGU 80
KSU 81
 
Final
NKENTUCKY 73
LIP 76
 
Final
HC 62
GHND 45
 
Final
RUTG 50
MD 60
Final
GT 49
UNC 81
Final
BUF 93
OHIO 66
 
Final
ALA 74
MISS 82
Final
DAY 75
RIU 59
Final
CMICH 85
TOL 77
 
Final
DET 77
YOUNG 67
Final
UNF 81
STET 67
 
Final
ABCHRIST 83
HOUB 71
 
Final
NDAK 78
NEOM 80
 
Final
NILL 65
WMICH 63
 
Final
ILLCH 60
WRST 57
Final
MIZZ 63
AUB 61
Final
UGA 64
KENT 72
Final
NW 82
MICH 78
Final
CLEM 61
NCSU 66
Final
UF 66
TEXAM 62
Final
KU 76
WVU 69
Final
CREI 72
VILL 76
12:00pm Today
PBY
LONG
 
2:00pm Today
GWEBB
CAMP
 
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UNCA
LIB
 
6:00pm Tonight
PSU
OSU
 
7:00pm Tonight
USB
BING
 
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FORD
DUQ
 
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GMAS
GWU
 
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UNH
HART
 
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STJOE
LAS
 
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Terriers
LIU
 
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GTDNS
MAINE
 
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LOU
ND
 
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SHU
PROV
 
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BRY
SHU
 
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MORE
SEMIZ
 
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MNTER
RFLSH
 
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LSU
TENN
 
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SFLA
UCF
 
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VERM
UMBC
 
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RMU
WAGN
 
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UMASS
RICH
 
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TULA
HOU
 
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YALE
HOW
 
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PITT
MIAMI
 
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TXPA
NMST
 
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MSU
PURD
 
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STLU
BONA
 
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DUKE
WAKE
 
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TULSA
CIN
 
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VANDY
MSST
 
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EILL
SIUE
 
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MARQ
STJ
 
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OKST
TCU
 
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UCLA
USC
 
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WYO
UTST
 
10:00pm Tonight
FRES
AFA
 
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SJST
BSU
 
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NEV
COLST
 
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ILL
NEB
 
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ORST
OREG
 
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UNLV
SDST
 
11:59pm Tonight
HAW
UCSB
 
Final
PHI 2
CAL 3
Final
NJD 3
NAS 1
Final
CLB 3
WAS 5
Final
TAM 3
BUF 0
Final
FLA 2
TOR 3
Final
MIN 3
OTT 2
Final
DAL 3
NYI 2
Final
ARI 1
ANA 4
Final
VAN 2
SJS 6
Final
EDM 2
LOS 5
7:30pm Tonight
WIN
OTT
 
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DET
NYR
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
MON
 
10:00pm Tonight
COL
PIT