(SportsNetwork.com) - Mired in their longest losing streak in decades, the Detroit Red Wings will try desperately to get back in the win column when they host the Carolina Hurricanes in Thursday's clash at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings enter Thursday on a seven-game losing streak, the club's first slide of that length since Jan. 14-30, 1991. After losing a 2-0 decision in Tuesday's game against visiting Nashville, the club also has lost its last eight in Detroit, marking the franchise's longest home losing streak since Nov. 19-Dec. 20, 1986.
Detroit has gained a point on five occasions during this slide and has lost the seven games by a slim total margin of nine goals. That's hardly consolation for a team that hasn't tasted victory since beating Edmonton 5-0 on Nov. 2.
The Red Wings couldn't get a shot past Marek Mazanec on Tuesday, as Nashville's rookie goaltender made 27 saves to notch his first career shutout. Gabriel Bourque and Shea Weber each had a goal for the Predators.
Jimmy Howard allowed both goals on 25 shots as Detroit fell to 3-3-6 at the Joe this season.
"It's just a frustrating time for us right now," Howard said. "It doesn't seem like anything's going our way out there, but you've got to go out there and work for your breaks."
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after practice on Wednesday that he's considering splitting up linemates Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for tonight's game. Zetterberg is leading the team with 23 points, while Datsyuk is next with 22 points and also boasts a team-best 11 goals this season.
"We'll see tomorrow, they weren't together in practice today," Babcock said. "We have to win a game, right? So whatever we have to do to win a game and get going from there so everyone can breathe a little bit."
The Red Wings will be without defenseman Danny DeKeyser for the next several weeks after he sprained his left shoulder in Tuesday's loss. DeKeyser, who was placed on long term injured reserve on Wednesday, has played in 22 games this season, recording two goals and seven assists. The injury is expected to keep him sidelined for four-to-six weeks.
Detroit has dominated the series with the Hurricanes in recent years and Carolina hasn't earned a win in the Motor City since Nov. 14, 1989, when the club was still known as the Hartford Whalers.
The Red Wings are 14-0-0 with a tie in the past 15 regular-season encounters at Joe Louis Arena and also have a credited home victory in a game played in Cleveland, Ohio in 1994 during that span. Carolina also dropped two of three games in Detroit while losing the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals to the Red Wings in five.
Detroit also has claimed five of six from Carolina overall.
Carolina, meanwhile, is on a two-game slide of its own and last played Monday when it dropped a 4-1 home decision against the Boston Bruins. Tuukka Rask posted 23 saves for the win, while Cam Ward surrendered three goals on 29 shots in his return to the crease for Carolina.
Tuomo Ruutu scored the lone goal of the game for the Hurricanes, who had won two straight and four of five before this two-game slide.
Ward played for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury on Oct. 24 and said he needs some time to get back into the swing of things.
"I know I have to get my game back to where it needs to be," said Ward. "I'd rather look at the positives tonight than the negatives. I hate losing, but I felt a lot better in the second and third period."
Ward expects to get the start again on Thursday. He is just 1-4-1 with a 2.99 goals against average in six career games against the Red Wings.
Carolina has lost five straight on the road and is 3-5-0 as the guest this season. The 'Canes are opening a brief two-game trip tonight and will also visit Boston on Saturday.