Oilers make a stop in Motown

The Edmonton Oilers are in the midst of four straight game road trip Friday night against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

The Oilers are 2-2 so far on the trek and are coming off Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Ryan Smyth posted a pair of goals and rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tallied the other for the Oilers, who have lost two of three since winning six in a row and were coming off a 3-1 win at Montreal.

"We can respect them, but we shouldn't fear them," Smyth said of the defending champions. "We fought back, showed some character to get back into the hockey game but when you play catch-up against a team like this, it's tough."

Devan Dubnyk allowed six goals on 28 shots in defeat. Veteran goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin is expected to be in the crease tonight. He is 7-0-2 with a league-best 0.98 goals-against average and has won six straight starts. However, Khabibulin has lost five in a row in the Motor City.

Edmonton sits alone atop the Northwest Division with 20 points in 15 games and will close out the road swing Sunday at Chicago.

"This whole road trip was a really good measuring stick for us," Oilers forward Taylor Hall said. "We're .500 right now, and we could be a lot better. There are parts of our game that we need to fix, and we showed that tonight...Whether you're in Detroit or Chicago, these are good teams, if you let up on the gas pedal for two minutes or even five minutes, they are going to capitalize on it."

Nugent-Hopkins has four points in his last five games and a team-leading 13 on the season.

Detroit has strung together back-to-back wins since losing six in a row and will resume a six-game homestand tonight.

The Red Wings are 2-1-1 on the residency after consecutive blowouts of both Anaheim and Colorado. In Tuesday's 5-2 pounding of the Avalanche, Johan Franzen recorded a hat trick, while Nicklas Lidstrom and Danny Cleary also scored. Jimmy Howard turned aside 24 shots for the win.

"I think we played good defense and created chances tonight," Franzen said.

Detroit, which posted six goals during its 0-5-1 skid and will also host Dallas on the homestand, was coming off a 5-0 blanking of the Ducks thanks to 22 saves by Howard. Howard has a 1.97 GAA in winning his last four starts against Edmonton.

Franzen has been a big boost for the Wings with a team-high 13 points and six in his last two games (4g, 2a). Detroit winger Patrick Eaves has missed the last three games with a balky back and his status for Friday is unknown.

Edmonton and Detroit are playing the first of four meetings between the teams this evening, and the Red Wings swept a four-game season series a year ago. The Red Wings have won five in a row and nine of the past 12 encounters with the Oilers, losers in three straight and 14 of 19 trips to Motown.