The Detroit Red Wings look to continue their recent dominance of the Colorado Avalanche when the Western Conference rivals meet Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings (41-16-8) have won eight of their last nine meetings with the Avalanche, including two of three this season. The teams met three times in January, with Detroit winning on a shootout on the road Jan. 9 and in regulation at home on Jan. 28. Detroit's 3-1 loss in Colorado on Jan. 20 ended a seven-game winning streak in the series.
Pavel Datsyuk, who leads the Red Wings with 49 assists and is tied with Henrik Zetterberg for the team lead with 68 points, has two goals and two assists in the three games against the Avalanche this season.
Colorado (31-29-5) has also dropped four straight visits to Detroit since a 5-2 win on Feb. 14, 2004.
The Red Wings have won five of their last seven overall, including Friday's 6-2 victory over Chicago. Robert Lang had a goal and three assists for his first multipoint game since Jan. 13. The center had just two goals without an assist in the 18 games in the interim.
"It's nice. Every time you struggle a little bit or things don't go your way," Lang said. "It's nice to have a nice little night when things fall your way or you get good little bounces."
Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom also broke out of a slump, scoring his first goal since Jan. 17. The goal was the 200th overall in his career, and 100th on the power play.
"You've got to play a long time to score 200 goals. You've got to play a real long time to score 200 as a team man," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the four-time Norris Trophy winner. "He's just an unbelievable player. Scoring goals is just kind of an added bonus."
Zetterberg, who leads the team with 33 goals, missed his second game with a sore back. Right wing Dan Cleary sat out for the third straight contest with an injured knee.
Despite Detroit's recent strong play, the idle Red Wings fell two points behind Nashville for the Central Division and Western Conference leads Saturday, when the Predators won 6-3 at Los Angeles.
The Avalanche have won their last two games - including Thursday's 6-1 victory over Chicago - following a three-game losing streak. Brad Richardson had a goal and an assist Thursday for Colorado, which is in ninth place in the Western Conference, 11 points behind San Jose and Minnesota for the final playoff spot.
"I like how we've been competing," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had some real, real tough losses.
"The teams ahead of us don't seem to be giving up any ground either. It can be a little discouraging, but I still think that we're hanging in here and sticking with what we can control. And that's showing up."
Thursday's game opened a five-game road trip for the Avalanche, who are 13-15-2 away from home.
Right wing Scott Parker played in his first game since being re-acquired in a trade from San Jose on Tuesday and picked up an assist. Parker spent the first four years of his career with Colorado before being dealt to the Sharks prior to the 2003-04 season.
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