A pair of road victories over one of the top teams in the NHL should have the Detroit Red Wings loaded with confidence ahead of Monday night's meeting with the Phoenix Coyotes, who can't be too happy to see the spirited club given they are riding their longest losing streak of the season.
The Red Wings have won four of their past five games, including back-to-back victories over the Anaheim Ducks. Detroit ended Anaheim's franchise-record 13- game home winning streak with a 5-1 victory on Friday, when Justin Abdelkader notched the first hat trick of his career.
Things were a bit tighter in Sunday's rematch, but Jimmy Howard made 33 saves to help first-period goals by Daniel Cleary and Drew Miller in a 2-1 win.
"It's a huge four points for us," Howard said of taking both games. "We have to continue to make the push for the postseason. We have teams coming up on our heels so we have to continue to get points.
Detroit now sits fifth overall in the Western Conference with 37 points, one ahead of both the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues and also one point back of the Minnesota Wild.
The Red Wings moved to 7-6-2 on the road after taking the first two of a four- game road trip that ends versus the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
Detroit took three of four versus the Coyotes a season ago and has logged 10 victories and a tie in its last 15 trips to Phoenix.
The Coyotes have dropped a season-high five straight and are on the verge of their first six-game slide since Jan. 27-Feb. 7, 2009. Their latest loss came on Thursday, a 2-1 setback to the Vancouver Canucks, and prompted a players- only meeting afterwards.
Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith made 14 saves through two periods before exiting with an upper body injury after getting run into by Vancouver's Alex Edler behind the net late in the second. Edler was handed a five-minute major in the game and later a two-game suspension by the league for the charge.
Smith is day-to-day and has not practiced since suffering the injury.
The Coyotes did score once on the power play to tie the game, but took a roughing minor to delay the start of the man advantage before Shane Doan was called for hooking with 35 seconds to play in the second. After killing off that penalty, Antoine Vermette scored at the 2:26 mark of the third.
However, Vancouver netted the winner at 9:53 of the frame as Jason LaBarbera took the loss despite making 14 saves in relief.
With this skid threatening to knock the Coyotes out of the playoff picture, Doan knows his team needs to get better.
"It's unacceptable to each individual guy. There's absolutely no way that we can't be better," said Phoenix' captain.
"The only way this works here is because as a whole, we've been good. Individually we have to be better. That's all that matters. To a man, we're accountable. It's not working because we're not good enough right now. We all know what it takes."
The Coyotes are 12th in the West with 30 points, three back of a playoff spot.