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Red Wings look to keep rolling at Thrashers

Detroit (47-15-9) at Atlanta (29-36-6), 7:30 p.m. EDT

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Detroit Red Wings are locked in a tight race

for home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Being the best

road team in the NHL could help them achieve that goal.

The Red Wings try for their fourth straight win overall and

fifth in a row on the road when they face the Atlanta Thrashers

in the opener of a three-game trip Friday night.

Detroit leads the league with 103 points, but is battling to

hold off San Jose and Boston for the top overall spot. The Wings

stayed hot Tuesday, defeating Philadelphia 3-2 at home and

improving to 16-4-2 since a season-high five-game losing streak

from January 17-31.

After playing its previous two games away from Joe Louis Arena,

Detroit heads back out on the road, where it's 21-10-5 for an

NHL-high 47 points. The Red Wings have five road games remaining

as they look to lock down the league's best record.

Detroit's 26-5-4 mark at Joe Louis is second to San Jose's

NHL-best 27-3-4 record at home.

Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg scored 1:32 apart in the

third period Tuesday to rally the Wings to the victory.

"This game's fair. If you do things right and do them right

longer, you tend to win more often," coach Mike Babcock said.

"We made a mistake a couple times and they scored on their

chances, but I thought it was fair. The team that stuck with it

the longest got a win tonight."

Detroit's last visit to Atlanta resulted in a 7-6 loss December

13, 2005, but the Wings are 8-2-0 all-time against the

Thrashers. The Red Wings won the first meeting this season 5-3

on October 24.

Pavel Datsyuk, fourth in the NHL with 87 points, has nine goals

and 20 assists in the last 22 games. The All-Star center had a

goal and an assist Tuesday to extend his point streak to six

games, giving him three goals and seven assists over that span.

Datsyuk has three goals and six assists in six games against the

Thrashers.

Friday's game will be the first in Atlanta for Marian Hossa

since being traded away last season. The star forward played

nearly three seasons with the Thrashers from 2005-08, recording

108 goals and 140 assists in 222 games.

Hossa, dealt from the Thrashers to Pittsburgh last February 26

before signing with the Red Wings in the offseason, had two

goals and an assist in the October 24 victory.

Detroit is playing a Thrashers team that has little chance of

making the playoffs, as it sits 13th in the Eastern Conference,

17 points behind eighth-place Carolina. The Thrashers, however,

had won a franchise-record six straight before losing 6-2 at

Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

The Thrashers recorded two shutouts and outscored opponents 22-9

during their run. The last two wins during the streak came

without star winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who missed the last three

games with an unspecified upper body injury.

Kovalchuk, however, practiced Thursday and is expected to return

Friday. Rookie defenseman Zach Bogosian also practiced, and he

may be in the lineup as well after being knocked out of

Tuesday's loss on a hit by Matt Cooke.

Bogosian, taken third overall in the June draft, has five goals

and seven assists in 36 games.

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