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The Detroit Red Wings battled through injuries to beat the Western Conference's best team in their last outing. Now they'll rely on their depleted lineup again as they try to defeat the conference's worst.
The Red Wings try to extend their point streak to a season-high 10 games when they host the struggling Los Angeles Kings on Friday.
Detroit (42-16-9) is trying to catch the Nashville Predators for the top spot in the West, and improved its chances with a 4-3 shootout victory over them Tuesday. Johan Franzen scored the deciding goal in the shootout, while leading scorer Pavel Datsyuk had a goal in the shootout and in regulation to extend his point streak to five games. He has nine points during the stretch.
Mathieu Schneider and Robert Lang each a goal and an assist for the Red Wings, 6-0-3 in their last nine games. Schneider, who spent nearly three seasons with Los Angeles from 2000-03, has four goals and 12 assists in his last 11 contests.
His 200th career goal gave the Wings a 3-2 lead heading into the third period Tuesday, but they couldn't hold on.
"This is the first time in a long time I thought we looked like a team that wasn't sure we were just going to win," said coach Mike Babcock, who earned his 100th win with Detroit in 149 games, making him the second fastest all-time to reach the milestone.
"Normally when we're ahead, it's over with. Tonight when we were ahead, I thought we got on our heels a little bit."
The Red Wings may have good reason to be on their heels, as they've played the last four contests without second-leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg, who could miss another week with back spasms.
Tomas Holmstrom (upper body) and Daniel Cleary (knee), two of the Red Wings' top four goal scorers, have also been sidelined with injuries. Top goaltender Dominik Hasek is day-to-day with a thigh injury.
If Hasek can't go Friday, Chris Osgood will likely make his fourth straight start. The Red Wings' backup is 5-1-0 with a 1.51 goals-against average in his last six games against the Kings (22-34-11), but that loss came in their most recent matchup Jan. 6.
In that game, Los Angeles' Michael Cammalleri recorded the go-ahead goal on a power play with less than two minutes remaining to give his team a 4-2 victory, snapping a 12-game Detroit winning streak in the series.
The Red Wings won the previous two matchups this season, though, and are 9-0-0 with a tie in the last 10 home meetings with the Kings. Detroit is playing the fourth game in a stretch of five straight at Joe Louis Arena, where it is 24-3-5 this season.
Los Angeles is a dismal 9-20-3 on the road and will be playing the third game of a four-game trip, which concludes Sunday in Dallas. The Kings have dropped three straight overall, including a 3-2 overtime defeat to Columbus on Wednesday.
The Blue Jackets' David Vyborny tied the game in the third period and scored a power-play goal 4:38 into overtime with Los Angeles' Alexander Frolov, the team's top goal scorer, off for slashing.
"Frolov has to be smarter than that," said Kings coach Marc Crawford, whose team is last in the West with 55 points. "I'm not going to bench him or anything like that. He's one of our best players, if not our best player, but those are hopefully the type of lessons we learn. You want to make intelligent decisions in overtime: don't slash a guy's stick on a 4-on-3."
Los Angeles may again be without center Anze Kopitar, who has missed four straight games with a strained muscle in his upper body.