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Red Wings, Blackhawks square off in Chicago

Detroit will try to close the gap in the Central Division place Chicago Blackhawks in an Original Six clash at the United Center.

The Blackhawks enter tonight tied with Vancouver with an NHL-best 50 points, putting them three ahead of the Red Wings for division bragging rights.

This evening's matchup marks the first of six encounters between the old rivals this season. Chicago won four of the six meetings against the Red Wings last year, but Detroit has come out on top in four of its last five trips to the Windy City. The clubs will face each other two more times in the span of the next few weeks, as Chicago is set to host another meeting on Jan. 8 before the Red Wings welcome the Blackhawks on Jan. 14.

Detroit enters tonight off of consecutive victories and Mike Babcock's club is coming off Tuesday's 3-2 decision over visiting St. Louis. After trailing the Blues by a 2-1 score after 40 minutes, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall scored 56 seconds apart in the third period to lift Detroit to the close win over another division rival.

Nicklas Lidstrom had the other goal for Detroit, which was playing on back-to- back nights after Monday's 4-1 triumph in Nashville. Jimmy Howard stopped 29 shots for the Red Wings, improving his record to 22-8-1 this season.

"There was a lot of intensity out there, two competitive teams," Lidstrom said. "They carried the play early on. We stuck with it. We got a power play to get us back in the game and in the third period we stayed patient, waited for our chances and capitalized on them."

The win over the Blues was Detroit's 11th straight home victory, but the club is just 9-10-0 as the visiting team this year compared to its stellar 14-2-1 mark in Motown.

Detroit will be without forward Tomas Holmstrom for a third straight game tonight after he was placed on injured reserve yesterday with a groin injury. The 38-year-old Swede has six goals and 15 points in 33 games this season and will be replaced on Detroit's roster by forward Gustav Nyquist, who was recalled from Grand Rapids of the AHL.

In other injury news for the Red Wings, forward Darren Helm will sit out tonight's game and Saturday's home test against St. Louis due to a groin injury.

The Blackhawks hope to bounce back from a shutout loss tonight after getting blanked Wednesday by the visiting Los Angeles Kings. The 2-0 setback dropped Chicago to 2-1 on its five-game homestand, but the Blackhawks are still boasting a strong 13-3-3 record on home ice this year.

Jonathan Quick posted 38 saves for his fifth shutout of the season for the Kings, who received goals from Jarret Stoll and Trent Hunter.

Corey Crawford gave up both goals on 38 shots for the Blackhawks, who came into the game having won seven of eight.

"We had some good chances tonight, their guy just came up with some good stops," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "Both goalies made several great chances tonight."

Blackhawks forward Dan Carcillo is expected to be activated from injured reserve in time to play tonight. The enforcer sat out the previous six games with an upper body injury.