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Preview: Kings Visit Hockeytown

Tuesday, 12.18.2007 / 5:22 PM / Preview
Associated Press
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Preview: Kings Visit Hockeytown

DETROIT - One of the league's elite teams for the past decade, the Red Wings have gotten the best of most opponents during that span. Facing the Los Angeles Kings, though, has proven to be a particularly favorable matchup.

Opposite ends of the NHL standings will be on display Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena as the league-best Red Wings look to continue their dominance of the struggling Kings.

Detroit (24-6-3) is proving to be the NHL's most dominant team yet again, currently leading the league with 24 wins and 51 points. The club is 9-0-1 in its last 10 games.

The Red Wings won the Presidents' Trophy as the league's top regular-season team in 2003-04 and again in 2005-06 before finishing tied with Buffalo in 2006-07. The Sabres, though, were awarded the honor by virtue of more wins.

Los Angeles (12-20-2) is last in the NHL with 26 points, has lost four straight overall and now must visit the Red Wings, who have won 14 of the last 15 meetings between the teams. The Kings are 0-7-3 with one tie in Detroit since a 3-2 victory on Feb. 18, 2000.

Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler scored shootout goals as the Red Wings continued their red-hot play Monday with a 4-3 victory over visiting Washington.

"It was a tough game for us," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told the team's official Web site. "I don't think we were as sharp at the start, but I was impressed with their team. I didn't think we were fluid, but in saying that I thought we had guys play real hard."

Tomas Holmstrom, second on the team with 16 goals, returned after missing the previous two games with a knee injury. His first goal came on the power play, giving Detroit at least one man-advantage goal in 13 of the last 14 games.

Zetterberg, among the NHL leaders with 47 points, has seven goals and five assists during a six-game home point streak.

Dominik Hasek made 27 saves before the shootout for his 371st career victory, moving within one of tying Andy Moog for 12th all-time. Hasek has won five straight starts against the Kings, and is 14-4-0 with two ties and a 2.03 goals-against average in 20 career games against them.

The Kings were unable to recover from a three-goal deficit in the first period in a 4-2 home loss Monday to Colorado.

Dustin Brown scored on the power play and Michal Handzus added a short-handed goal for Los Angeles, which has been outscored 16-7 during the four-game skid, one shy of a season high.

Jason LaBarbera stopped 36 of 39 shots after missing eight games with a rib injury.

"It's frustrating," said LaBarbera, who blamed himself for the first three goals. "You can't get behind 3-0 against a team like that because you're not going to come back on them. We did a pretty good job trying to - but what's the point, you know?"

LaBarbera's return should only help the Kings, who have already used four goaltenders this season. LaBarbera has half of the team's 12 wins while his 2.59 GAA is nearly a full goal better than J.S. Aubin (3.29) or rookies Jon Quick (3.86) and Jonathan Bernier (4.03).

LaBarbera is 0-1-1 with a 4.53 GAA in three appearances against Detroit.

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