Sens, Red Wings clash in Motown

( - The Ottawa Senators will visit Detroit for a second time this season, but they won't be facing former Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson when the clubs battle Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.

Alfredsson sent waves through the NHL, especially in Ottawa, when he departed the Sens as a free agent by signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal with the Red Wings on July 5. It ended a relationship with the city and franchise that began when the Senators took the Swede in the sixth round of the 1994 draft.

Ottawa routed Alfredsson's new team when it visited Detroit back on Oct. 23, posting a 6-1 blowout victory at Joe Louis Arena. However, the 40-year-old winger has missed the last four games with a groin injury and is expected to sit out a fifth straight tilt on Saturday.

Fellow Red Wings forward Stephen Weiss also will miss a seventh straight contest tonight with a groin injury of his own.

Detroit enters Saturday's Atlantic Division clash coming off its first win in weeks. The Red Wings ended a seven-game slide with Thursday's 4-3 regulation win over Carolina, stopping the club's longest skid since the 1990-91 season. It was Detroit's first win since earning a 5-0 road triumph at Edmonton on Nov. 2 and the team's first home victory since edging Columbus by a 2-1 score on Oct. 15.

The eight-game home losing streak was the longest for the Red Wings since Nov. 19-Dec. 20, 1986.

Gustav Nyquist scored twice to help lead Detroit to Thursday's win. Niklas Kronwall and Darren Helm also lit the lamp for the Red Wings, while Jonas Gustavsson made 24 saves for the win.

"We needed to win and it was a good win for us," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "We made it closer than we needed to for sure, but I thought the guys stepped it up and the special teams were outstanding."

Detroit is just 4-3-6 as the host this season and is completing a three-game homestand on Saturday.

Ottawa has lost three straight in regulation and is mired in a 1-4-0 slump that comes directly on the heels of a season-best three-game winning streak from Nov. 5-9.

The Senators are coming off Wednesday's 4-3 regulation setback against visiting Minnesota. Mikko Koivu's tally with less than three minutes left in regulation sent the Wild to the close win at Canadian Tire Centre.

Ottawa led 2-1 after the first period, but was down 3-2 after 40 minutes of play. Milan Michalek scored for the Sens to tie it up midway through the third period before Koivu notched his game-winner with 2:57 remaining.

Kyle Turris and Mika Zibanejad joined Michalek as the goal-scorers for the Senators, while Craig Anderson surrendered all four goals on just 25 shots in the setback.

"Well it's disappointing. We got the game tied up again, but again, we're chasing the game. Any time you're chasing the game it makes it hard," said Senators head coach Paul MacLean.

Ottawa hopes to get back into the win column Saturday with a repeat performance of its trip to the Motor City last month. Jason Spezza and Bobby Ryan each had two goals to lead the Sens in the 6-1 thrashing of the Red Wings, who have still claimed six of the last nine meetings in this series overall and five of the last seven encounters at the Joe.

The Senators are opening a three-game road trip on Saturday and also will face Carolina and Washington during the swing.

Ottawa is 4-4-2 as the visiting team this season.