Red Wings host Canucks on NHL betting slate

By: Barry Daniels | Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Jimmy Howard

Detroit’s Jimmy Howard has allowed 21 goals in his last six starts.

The Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks have allowed five goals during their current four-game winning streak. However, the Canucks will have their hands full Wednesday when they travel to Detroit to face the high-scoring Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

Vancouver extended its winning streak to four games Monday by defeating the St. Louis Blues as 105 road favorites, 3-1. It was the third time in the last four games that the Canucks had allowed just one goal. As a result, the ‘under’ has cashed in those last four outings.

After killing off all three of St. Louis’ chances with the man advantage, the Canucks have now not allowed a power play goal in seven of their last 10 games. The surge has lifted the Canucks into a No. 5 ranking by killing 85.3 percent of the opposition’s power plays.

Conversely, the Canucks rank fourth on their own power play by connecting at a 23.6 percent rate. That has helped Vancouver rank third offensively, scoring an average of 3.2 goals per game. The squad is seventh defensively, yielding 2.5 goals per contest.

Aaron Volpatti scored his first career goal in Monday’s victory against St. Louis, while Ryan Kesler nothed his fourth goal in three games. Jeff Tambellini scored a late power-play goal and Mikael Samuelsson had two assists to lead the offense.

Roberto Luongo had to stop just 15 shots en route to the victory, which raised his record to 16-8-0-2. He has a 2.40 GAA, a .914 save percentage and two shutouts. The victory lifted Vancouver’s record over its last 11 games to 9-1-1.

The streak has enabled the Canucks to jump into first place in the Northwest Division and has put them within two points of the Western Conference-leading Red Wings.

Detroit has allowed the Canucks to creep closer by dropping six of its last nine games, including Sunday’s 4-3 overtime setback against Dallas as a whopping 200 home favorite. The Wings have now lost four of their last six home contests to lower their ledger at Joe Louis Arena to 12-4-2-1.

Mike Babcock’s troops have now allowed three goals or more in six of their last nine outings, including one power play goal in each of their last five contests.

The leaky defense has helped the ‘over’ improve to 17-15 in the Red Wings’ first 32 overall outings and has lowered the club to 11th defensively at 2.7 goals per game.

Starting goalie Jimmy Howard has dropped four of his last six starts, and has allowed 21 goals during that span. The mini-slump has lowered Howard’s record to 17-6-2 and has raised his goals-against average to 2.62. The 26-year-old has a .911 save percentage and two shutouts.

Detroit continues to have little trouble putting the puck in the net, evidenced by the club ranking third offensively at 3.3 goals per game. The Wings also rank third by firing 33.3 shots on goal per game.

These two Western Conference foes have already met once this season (Nov.6), with Vancouver registering a 6-4 victory as a 140 home favorite. The combined 10 goals soared above the NHL odds, allowing the ‘over’ to cash in the last three series matchups.

The Canucks outshot the Red Wings, 34-28, and were 2-for-5 on the power play. Detroit, 1-for-4 with the man advantage, was playing its third game in four nights and the second of a back-to-back situation.

The Canucks continue to play without LW Mason Raymond (thumb) and defenseman Sami Salo (ankle). The Don Best Sports injury report lists both players as “out.”

The Red Wings will have little time to rest, as they fly to St. Louis for a Thursday contest against the Blues. Vancouver concludes its three-game road trip with a Thursday outing at Columbus against the Blue Jackets.

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