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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, January 9th (All times Eastern)

Detroit Red Wings (19-14-10) at San Jose Sharks (27-11-6), 10:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Having had four days off in between games, Detroit head coach Mike Babcock is hoping to have a fresh team on the ice for Thursday's game against San Jose.

However, the mini-break wasn't enough to get Pavel Datsyuk back on the ice as the Red Wings forward will miss this meeting with the Sharks due to a lower- body injury.

Datsyuk was scratched from Saturday's 5-1 victory over the Dallas Stars and has already been ruled out for tonight. He wasn't missed a whole lot over the weekend thanks to Henrik Zetterberg's two goals and 44 saves by Jimmy Howard.

Joakim Andersson, Drew Miller and Tomas Tatar also scored for the Red Wings, who snapped a two-game losing streak that included a shootout loss to Toronto on New Year's Day in the Winter Classic.

Saturday's win opened a five-game road trip for Detroit and Babcock was looking forward to the break afterwards.

"It's great that we can go get freshened up. We have so many injuries," said Babcock. "I've said it already, I'm tired of guys being out and being on the (trainer's) table every day when I go in there. We need our guys to be freshened up and ready to play and we need a big push out of our group."

Zetterberg, who upped his season goal total to 14, and Howard are two players who have missed time due to injury. Datsyuk has also missed some time and has 15 goals and 17 assists in 35 games.

Though Datsyuk is out, Danny DeKeyser is in line to return from a lower-body injury, while Darren Helm is a game-time decision. Helm has not played since Dec. 30 due to a groin injury.

The Sharks are without rookie Tomas Hertl, winger Marty Havlat and forward Logan Couture due to injury. Couture was the latest to go down, having surgery on Wednesday to repair a lingering upper-body injury believed to be a hand ailment.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement that there is no specific return date for Couture, who has 14 goals and 21 assists in 43 games this season.

San Jose is coming off its third loss in nine games, a 3-2 setback to the Nashville Predators. Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau had goals and Antti Niemi yielded three goals on 28 shots.

However, Sharks coach Todd McLellan didn't think the third goal, and eventual game-winner, that Niemi allowed should have counted due to what he believed to be goaltender interference.

"When you get an explanation from a group of people and it didn't happen, it's disappointing," said McLellan about the goal. "There's a protocol to follow in our league and that protocol is you get together and you discuss it, and that didn't happen. So obviously I'm very disappointed."

It proved big as Marleau scored his 20th goal of the season with 1:22 to play in the third period.

The Sharks have won three in a row over the Red Wings, including a 1-0 shootout win in Detroit back on Oct .21 in the first meeting of the season between the clubs. Couture had the lone tally in the tiebreaker and Niemi made 24 saves.

San Jose beat Detroit for the ninth time in the last 11 meetings overall and has taken four of the past five meetings at home.

Howard was credited with his first career shutout versus the Sharks despite the loss, making 27 saves. He fell to 3-5-4 with a 2.61 goals against average in 12 career meetings.

Niemi is 11-2-2 with a 1.68 GAA and three shutouts in 15 games (14 starts) versus the Red Wings.

01/09 10:55:41 ET

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