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The opening weeks of the season saw the Detroit Red Wings experience plenty of success, but the defending Stanley Cup champions are facing a bit of adversity as they begin November.
The Red Wings hope to avoid a third straight defeat on Sunday as they visit the Vancouver Canucks, who seek to win their third consecutive game.
Detroit (7-2-2) captured the 11th Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2007-08, and extended that success into this season by winning five of its first seven games.
The Red Wings also posted back-to-back shootout wins to kick off their current five-game road trip, but they've faltered since. They followed Wednesday's 5-4 overtime loss at Anaheim with 4-2 defeat in San Jose on Thursday, when they ended their run of nine straight games with at least one point.
Marian Hossa and Brian Rafalski scored for Detroit, which allowed four straight goals to the Sharks and was outshot for the first time this season.
"They really capitalized on their chances, made nice plays and skated well," said center Valtteri Filppula, who assisted on Rafalski's goal with 32 seconds left in the third period. "We weren't good enough with the puck (Thursday night) and when they're skating well that's not good enough."
Detroit is in danger of its first three-game slide since losing four in a row Feb. 22-29. Vancouver (6-5-0) has already beaten the Red Wings once this season - a 4-3 overtime victory at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 16.
The Canucks begin November on an offensive surge. They've scored 17 goals in their last three wins, including a 7-6 victory at Anaheim following a 13-round shootout in which Mattias Ohlund scored the deciding goal to end the marathon tiebreaker.
"We've got to look at the tape obviously tomorrow because there are a few things defensively that we need to do a lot better job at," Ohlund, who also scored during a four-goal second period, told the Canucks' official Web site. "But I mean it's two points and that's huge in the standings at the moment."
Vancouver is opening a season-high six-game homestand after playing eight of its first 11 games on the road. The Canucks have won two of three at General Motors Place, but suffered a 1-0 loss to Boston there on Tuesday.
Roberto Luongo has compiled a 1.34 goals-against average while starting all three home games for the Canucks. He made 31 saves and turned aside 12 of 13 shootout attempts in his 500th NHL game on Friday, and is 6-3-1 with a 2.18 goals-against average in his last 10 starts versus Detroit.
Backup Ty Conklin made 29 saves for the Red Wings on Thursday, but Chris Osgood will likely be back in the net on Sunday. The veteran netminder is 15-4-1 with four ties and a 2.46 GAA in 26 career games versus Vancouver.
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