Published March 24, 2012
| Sports Network
The Detroit Red Wings will try to avoid their longest losing streak in over two decades when they host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings are 0-4-2 in their last six games, matching an 0-5-1 stretch from Oct. 22-Nov. 3 for the club's longest slide this season. However, the last time Detroit went seven games without a win was from Dec. 18-31, 1998, when it was 0-6 with a tie and the Wings haven't lost seven straight tilts since Jan. 14-30, 1991.
Despite the slide, the Red Wings enter today with a one-point lead over Nashville and Chicago for the fourth seed in the Western Conference. The Predators are hosting the Winnipeg Jets tonight, while the Blackhawks are idle ahead of Sunday's matchup against Nashville.
In addition to six straight losses, the Red Wings have also dropped eight of nine and 11 of their last 14 contests. The most recent setback produced a point, as Detroit was dealt a 2-1 overtime loss by the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Ryan Callahan's goal with 2:18 remaining in OT lifted the hosting Rangers to the win on Wednesday. It was the first win for New York over Detroit since Oct. 25, 2003.
Henrik Zetterberg lit the lamp for the Red Wings, while Ty Conklin lost despite making 32 stops.
Injuries have been a big concern for Detroit lately, but head coach Mike Babcock didn't want to give into frustration after his team's loss on Wednesday.
"I don't think it's frustrating at all," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said of his injury-ravaged club failing to win. "It would have been the nice to get the second point. We had our opportunities, especially in the last minutes of the game. In the end, we didn't get 'er done."
The Red Wings hope to get some relief in the injury department tonight, as captain Nicklas Lidstrom and fellow defenseman Jakub Kindl could both return this evening. Lidstrom has sat out the last 11 games with a bone bruise in his right ankle, but he has been practicing and is questionable for tonight. Kindl has sat out eight straight tests with a strained oblique muscle and is also day-to-day.
Detroit is also without key skaters like Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen and Darren Helm due to various injuries and the club's top-two goaltenders -- Jimmy Howard and Joey MacDonald -- are currently on the shelf as well. Conklin will likely be called upon for another start tonight, while rookie Jordan Pearce will serve as the backup. Pearce has never seen action in an NHL game, while the veteran Conklin was recalled on an emergency basis from Grand Rapids of the AHL earlier this week.
The Red Wings are 28-5-2 as the host this season, but have dropped four of their last six games at the Joe.
Carolina, which is seven points out of a playoff spot in the East with seven games left, had won four straight before getting slammed in Columbus on Friday to start a three-game road trip. R.J. Umberger netted a hat trick to lead the Blue Jackets to a 5-1 victory over the Hurricanes at Nationwide Arena.
Drayson Bowman tallied the lone goal for the Hurricanes, while Cam Ward was tagged for all five goals on 26 shots in defeat.
Carolina, which will close this swing in Toronto on Tuesday, is just 11-17-9 as the guest this season.
Tonight's test marks the lone meeting this season between the Red Wings and Hurricanes. Carolina ended a three-game slide in the series with a 3-0 home win on April 6 of last season. Detroit has claimed two straight encounters at the Joe and the Red Wings are 14-0-0 with a tie in their last 15 tests as the host in this series.
The last time the Hurricanes won a regular-season game in the Motor City was on Nov. 14, 1989, when the club was still known as the Hartford Whalers. Carolina did record a 3-2 overtime win in Detroit in Game 1 of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals, but the Red Wings still won that series in five games.