RED WINGS (20-14-6) at COYOTES (25-13-4)
Last 10 -- Red Wings 6-3-1; Coyotes 6-2-2
Season series -- This is the third of four meetings. On Oct. 22, Adrian Aucoin scored at 1:57 of overtime to give Phoenix a 3-2 come-from-behind home win. Petr Prucha forced the overtime by scoring with 2:40 left in regulation. On Dec. 14, Kris Newbury, Patrick Eaves and Derek Meech scored goals and goalie Jimmy Howard made 30 saves to lead the Red Wings to a 3-2 home win.
Big story -- If the playoffs began today, the Coyotes would be the No. 4 seed in the West and the Red Wings would not qualify. Yes, you read that right. The revival in Phoenix is coinciding with an injury-ravaged season in Detroit. It's gotten so bad that the Red Wings have been shut out in three of their last five games, four times in December and six times for the season.
Red Wings -- Detroit begins a five-game road trip after celebrating New Year's Eve with its biggest offensive game in a month, a 4-2 home win over Colorado.
The Wings have suffered three shutouts in their last five games, and have been blanked six times for the season. The power play went 5-for-54 for December.
"We're not focused on that, per se," defenseman Brian Rafalski told the Detroit Free Press. "We're tight and close in a lot of these games, we've just got to find a way to win them. Until we get a lot of our higher-skilled forwards back, it's going to be tough. We just have to do the things we need to do correctly, longer -- we can't afford to play badly for 10 minutes or not get chances for 10 minutes. We need 60 minutes of quality play to win games."
Coyotes -- The Coyotes saw their 10-game home winning streak end on Thursday with a 3-2 shootout loss to San Jose. This is their fourth game in six days -- the first three all went to shootouts, with the 'Yotes losing two of the three, both to the Sharks.
"We were fortunate to get out of the game with a point," coach Dave Tippett said after Thursday night's loss. "We had a good burst of energy early, had shots but not a lot of quality. Then they started competing at a level where we didn't get to."
Still, the Coyotes haven't lost in regulation at Jobing.com Arena since Nov. 16.
Who's hot -- For the Red Wings, Todd Bertuzzi has 8 goals and 2 assists in 10 games, and Darren Helm is coming off the first two-goal game of his NHL career. For the Coyotes, Martin Hanzal has 2 goals and 7 assists in 10 games, Scott Upshall has 4 goals and 4 assists in six games, and Shane Doan has 2 goals and 4 assists in six games.
Injury report -- For the Red Wings, Niklas Kronwall (sprained left MCL), Andreas Lilja (concussion), Dan Cleary (separated shoulder), Jason Williams (broken fibula) and Johan Franzen (left knee surgery) are on injured reserve, and Jonathan Ericsson (knee) and Henrik Zetterberg (separated left shoulder) are day-to-day. For the Coyotes, Kurt Sauer (upper-body) and Daniel Winnik (upper-body) are on injured reserve, and Vernon Fiddler (lower-body) and Jim Vandermeer (undisclosed) are day-to-day.
Stat pack -- Since the 1996-97 season, Detroit has won more games (658) than any other team in the NHL. Their 564 regular-season wins and 94 playoff wins are both tops in the NHL over the past 12 seasons. … Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood needs four wins to become the 10th player to reach 400 for his NHL regular-season career. … Tippett currently ranks second among all NHL coaches in regular-season victories with 295 since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, Tippett's first season as an NHL coach with the Dallas Stars. In the 17 games they played between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, the Coyotes posted a record of 12-2-3.
Puck drop -- This will be a measuring stick game for both teams. The Coyotes have been one of the first half's big surprises -- but they had a good first half in 2008-09 as well, only to fall back in the second half. The Wings have been trying to tread water while their injured players heal and have stayed close to the top eight despite losing many of their top players. Both teams need the win.
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