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The Detroit Red Wings have a chance to regain the Western Conference lead Tuesday night, but they need start tightening up defensively after another abysmal effort in their last game.
The woeful Phoenix Coyotes, surprisingly, could create more problems in the Wings' end of the ice.
Detroit (43-15-8) hopes to move atop the West and bounce back from a blowout home loss in its last game when it hosts the Coyotes.
The Red Wings have 94 points and are tied with San Jose, which plays at Minnesota later Tuesday night. The focus for Detroit, though, may be less on its current position in the standings and more on rebounding from their second lopsided defeat in four games.
The Wings fell 8-2 to Columbus on Saturday night, as Chris Osgood gave up seven goals on 23 shots before being pulled in the third period for Ty Conklin. Detroit was outshot 46-23 and outscored 4-1 in the third period.
"You don't want to play like this, especially in front of your home fans," center Henrik Zetterberg said. "Today, it was breakaways we gave them. You have to execute, make the passes. We have to step up and play better as a group."
The alarming performance came one week after an 8-0 rout at Nashville, when Conklin gave up four goals in the first 9:51 on Feb. 28 before giving way to Osgood, who yielded another four on 14 shots.
Sloppy play and turnovers in their own zone cost the Red Wings in both blowouts, which were sandwiched around a pair of wins.
"We didn't give ourselves a chance. We hung our goalie out to dry - both of them," coach Mike Babcock said after Saturday's defeat. "We got out of sync by turning the puck over early and we never really got it going."
Osgood has won five straight against Phoenix, although he's given up 17 goals in his last five games - a stretch that includes a shutout of St. Louis last Tuesday. Conklin is 7-1-0 with a 2.42 goals-against average in his previous nine appearances, but allowed five goals in his only career start against the Coyotes - a 6-3 road loss Jan. 20.
The Red Wings could get an offensive boost Tuesday from the expected return of right wing Tomas Holmstrom from hernia surgery. Holmstrom, who hasn't played since Jan. 29, has seven goals and nine assists in his last 15 games against Phoenix.
The Coyotes (28-33-5) have been dominated by the Wings recently, going 1-9-1 in the last 11 meetings. Phoenix, however, has scored 14 goals in the last three matchups, earning the Jan. 20 win and picking up a point in a 5-4 shootout loss at home Dec. 13.
The Wings took the most recent meeting 5-4 on Feb. 4 at Joe Louis Arena on Nicklas Lidstrom's goal with 39 seconds left.
Phoenix's Ed Jovanovski and Joakim Lindstrom each have two goals and three assists in the last three matchups with Detroit, while teammate Enver Lisin has two goals over that span.
While Phoenix has managed to generate offense versus Detroit, the Coyotes haven't done much of that against anyone else lately. They've averaged 2.1 goals in dropping 14 of 18 and have totaled eight goals while going 1-5-0 in their last six.
In Sunday's 3-2 road loss to the New York Islanders, they failed to convert on seven power-play opportunities, including a pair of two-man advantages.
"We didn't capitalize on either five-on-three," coach Wayne Gretzky said. "I believe you should score on every five-on-three situation."
Phoenix has been outscored 49-28 in its last 11 games against Detroit. The Red Wings have won five straight over the Coyotes at Joe Louis.