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Cleary lifts streaking Red Wings to sixth straight triumph

Nov 5, 2006 - 2:46 AM DETROIT (Ticker) -- Daniel Cleary and the Detroit Red Wings might have struggled early, but they are returning to their dominating form.

Cleary scored two goals and the Red Wings scored three goals in just under seven minutes in the second period of a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The defending Presidents' Trophy winners, who also got goals from Henrik Zetterberg and Mikael Samuelsson, have won six consecutive games after stumbling to a 3-4-1 start.

Detroit has outscored its opponents, 18-10, during the streak.

"We controlled most of the game and we were rewarded," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, whose club outshot Columbus, 37-17.

Cleary gave Detroit a 1-0 lead with 2:17 left in the first period when he poked the puck past Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire after a scramble in front of the net.

His second tally gave Detroit a 3-1 lead with 14:04 left in the second period. Cleary streaked in on a breakaway and backhanded the puck past Leclaire.

"I read the bounce and got a good jump on them and went in and tried to be patient," said Cleary, whose goals were his first two of the season. "We practice breakaways a lot. I tried to out wait him (Leclaire) and make sure I got the puck up."

"That was the nail in the coffin," Babcock said of Cleary's second tally. "We knew they had played the night before."

Columbus had to go to the 11th round of the shootout to defeat the Calgary Flames, 5-4, on Friday.

Leclaire, who stopped 23-of-27 shots, was lifted after two periods.

"I just took him out to give the team a boost," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. "He's fine, there was nothing he could have done on those goals. I mean, there was second and third rebounds, deflections in front of the net, so he was solid. He's played a lot of hockey for us and I thought it was time to give Freddy (Norrena) a period, and he was really solid in the third period."

Norrena stopped all 10 shots he faced in the third period.

"We're a good team when we play simple and we keep everything on the sides," Leclaire said. "We tried to do a little too much and we got caught flat-footed. That's why we started taking penalties. That's something we have to get out of. That's why we're losing hockey games right now, just little things."

Ron Hainsey scored for Columbus, which went 1-for-9 on the power play.

Dominik Hasek recorded 16 stops for the Red Wings, who were blanked in seven opportunities with the extra skater.

"They're playing well," Gallant said of the Red Wings. "They're working hard and that's the difference in their team right now. They're not the same tic-tac skill team they were. They're still very good at it, but they're working hard and that's why they're winning games."

Detroit improved 24-4-1 all-time vs. Columbus.

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