The Los Angeles Kings will try to avoid losing for the fourth time in five games when they visit the Detroit Red Wings for Sunday's clash at Joe Louis Arena.
With their 3-4-2 record this season, the Kings have hardly resembled the defending Stanley Cup champions who posted a 16-4 record during the 2012 postseason. After losing three in a row to begin the season, Los Angeles went on a two-game winning streak before logging a 1-2-1 mark over its last four outings.
The Kings are playing the fourth test of a five-game road trip on Sunday and are coming off Thursday's 3-0 setback in Nashville. Colin Wilson scored twice and Pekka Rinne recorded 32 saves to lead the Predators to the win at Bridgestone Arena.
Los Angeles outshot the Preds, 32-14, but couldn't solve Rinne. Meanwhile, Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick allowed all three goals in the setback.
"They're really good defensively and if they get the lead it's hard to get a goal back, let alone three," Los Angeles center Colin Fraser said of the Predators. "We felt we played a lot better in the second and third, but too little, too late."
The setback dropped L.A. to 2-3-1 on the road this season. The Kings are scheduled to end their current road trip Monday evening in St. Louis.
The Red Wings have won two in a row and will aim for their first three-game winning streak of the season on Sunday.
Detroit has allowed a total of two goals during its brief winning streak. The Wings slammed St. Louis by a 5-1 score in a road game on Thursday and then returned home to edge the Edmonton Oilers, 2-1, on Saturday.
Niklas Kronwall scored the winner in the third period to help Detroit beat the Oilers. Pavel Datsyuk posted a goal and an assist while Jimmy Howard made 23 saves for the Red Wings, who have won four of six since beginning the season 2-2-1.
In the third period with the score tied, Detroit was skating on the power play and Datsyuk sent the disc from the right circle to the high slot where Kronwall cranked a huge slap shot that blew through a screen and past Nikolai Khabibulin for a 2-1 lead.
"I think a lot of people would have decided to shoot the puck, but he passed it instead" Kronwall said of Datsyuk. "I'm sure a lot of people didn't see it coming but that's what we get from Pav, he does the unexpected, which is why he's so successful."
Howard needed to make just six stops in the third period, but helped kill off a late 6-on-4 after Johan Franzen got whistled for a penalty and Edmonton pulled the goalie for an extra attacker.
Edmonton was 1-for-8 on the power play and Detroit went 2-for-7.
The Red Wings, who are 4-2-0 at the Joe this season, are playing the second test of a four-game homestand on Sunday.
The Kings halted a three-game slide in this series with a 5-2 victory over a visiting Detroit club on March 13 of last season. L.A. has taken six of 10 overall in the series, but the Red Wings have won two in a row and 16 of the past 21 encounters in Detroit.