The road-challenged Detroit Red Wings will try to avoid a third straight loss when they visit the Anaheim Ducks for tonight's Western Conference clash at the Honda Center.
Detroit has been a completely different team at home and on the road this season, posting a stellar 28-4-2 record in the Motor City compared to a 16-19-1 record everywhere else. The Red Wings have lost three in a row as the guest and are 0-2 so far on a four-game road trip that is set to end Saturday in San Jose.
The Red Wings, who have lost four of their last five overall, have fallen seven points behind St. Louis for first place in the Central Division and the top seed in the West. Detroit is also just two points in front of Nashville for the conference's fourth seed.
Detroit played on Tuesday night in Los Angeles and was dealt a 5-2 setback by the Kings. Drew Doughty scored the game-winner in the second period to help LA get payback for last Friday's 4-3 regulation setback in Detroit.
Jiri Hudler and Johan Franzen scored for Detroit, while Jimmy Howard returned from a three-game absence because of a strained groin and allowed four goals on 26 shots.
"You are not going to win with the approach we had tonight," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. "The other team can't win all the battles, all of the races."
Detroit forward Todd Bertuzzi could be back tonight after sitting out the previous four games with a groin issue, but the Red Wings are still dealing with a host of other injuries. Pavel Datsyuk is nearing a return from knee surgery, but is expected to miss an 11th straight game tonight, while captain Nicklas Lidstrom (right ankle) and fellow defensemen Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson remain out.
The Red Wings have outscored the Ducks by a combined 11-3 margin in taking the first three games of this year's season series and will try complete the sweep tonight. The Red Wings have won six of seven and 11 of 13 in this series overall and Detroit has claimed two of the last three encounters in Orange County.
The Ducks are running out of time to break into the Western Conference playoff race and posting an 0-2-1 record on a recent three-game road trip did not help the situation. Anaheim enters Wednesday trailing four teams by nine points for the conference's final postseason berth.
After dropping two straight in regulation to begin the swing, Anaheim was able to salvage a point in the finale of the road trip, dropping Monday's 3-2 overtime decision against the Colorado Avalanche.
Teemu Selanne scored with 3:52 left in the third period to tie the game at 2-2 for the Ducks. The goal was not only important for the team, it also represented another milestone for the 41-year-old Selanne, who passed Hall of Famer Jari Kurri for most career NHL points by a Finnish-born player with 1,399.
Selanne, who leads Anaheim in points this year with 59, also moved into sole possession of 19th place on the league's all-time list in points and tied Luc Robitaille for fourth all-time in power-play goals with 247.
However, despite Selanne's late equalizer, the Ducks were unable to gain the extra point as Colorado rookie Gabriel Landeskog notched the game-winner 1:52 into the extra session. Landeskog, the second overall pick last year, fired a slap shot past Jonas Hiller's glove hand for his team-best 19th goal of the season.
"It looked like everybody was trying to go on offense [in overtime]. Sure, you want to score, but you kind of have to think defense first," said Hiller, who stopped 30 shots in the loss.
Francois Beauchemin also lit the lamp for Anaheim, which played without leading goal-scorer Corey Perry. Perry, who has 34 goals this season, had played in 272 consecutive games before missing Monday's test with a shoulder injury. He is questionable for tonight.
The Ducks are beginning a three-game homestand tonight and will play six of their next seven games at the Honda Center. Anaheim is 18-14-2 at home this season compared to 11-16-9 on the road.