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Chris Osgood makes 20 saves for Red Wings in 5-0 win over Blues

ST. LOUIS - Detroit centre Valtteri Filppula took advantage of a golden opportunity.

Given more playing time because of injuries to Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg, Filppula stepped to the forefront Wednesday night with the first two-goal game of his career, leading the Red Wings past St. Louis 5-0.

Goalie Chris Osgood stopped 20 shots to record his 45th career shutout. Brian Rafalski added a goal and two assists, Jiri Hudler chipped in with a goal and an assist and Nicklas Lidstrom had the other tally for the Red Wings, who improved to 27-7-3. St. Louis, playing in front of its largest crowd of the season - 19,250 - fell to 18-13-3.

Filppula, who has 11 goals in his second NHL season, scored twice in a span of 126 seconds in the second period to put the Red Wings in control, 4-0. Pavel Datsyuk set up the first tally with a pass across the goal crease that Filppula tipped past St. Louis goalie Manny Legace. Minutes later, Filppula scored off a feed from Hudler.

"I got a couple lucky bounces and my teammates made some great plays setting me up," said the native of Vantaa, Finland. "I was in good position and they got me the puck."

Filppula couldn't have picked a better time for a breakout performance. Zetterberg, who has 25 goals and 50 points, missed the game with a back injury and Holmstrom suffered a bruised knee on Dec. 20.

"It's sad because we need those guys out there," said Filppula. "But it gives more ice time to others so they can show what they can do."

Detroit coach Mike Babcock was more than pleased by the way his front-liners filled in.

"Injuries give you the opportunity to find out how good some of the other guys are," he said. "Actually, it helps your team get deeper over time. If your team is a good team, the injuries will make your stronger."

Filppula is on a roll, with seven goals in his last nine games after beginning the season with 10 scoreless games.

Osgood, who improved to 16-2-1, helped the Red Wings make an early statement by stopping Andy McDonald from close range in the first minute of the game. The triumph served as revenge for Osgood, who had his eight-game unbeaten streak stopped in the Blues' 3-2 win in St. Louis on Dec. 20.

The Red Wings gave up a 2-1 lead in that contest six days ago but came out ready on Wednesday.

"The last time we came in here we let them dictate the physical style of play," said Babcock. "This time, we just said, 'let's go out there after them."'

Lidstrom, who signed a new US$15 million, two-year contract earlier in the day, got Detroit started with a blast from the left faceoff dot just 2:26 into the game. Hudler made it 2-0 on a sharp pass from Mikael Samuelsson in the second period. Filppula then exploded for his two goals before Rafalski rounded out the scoring.

The win was the fifth in six games for Detroit, which improved to 10-1-1 in December.

St. Louis, which has won just twice in its last six games, was 0-for-5 on the power play.

"We played them hard," said St. Louis coach Andy Murray. "We recognize them for what they are - a great team."

Notes: The Blues sold 100 standing room only tickets to the sold-out contest for the first time in the history of the Scotttrade Center. ... St. Louis rookie winger David Perron missed his Tuesday night flight from Montreal to St. Louis and could not get back in time for the Wednesday morning skate. He was declared a healthy scratch. St. Louis defenceman Bryce Salvador missed the contest with a hip flexor injury.



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