RED WINGS (16-11-5) at COYOTES (13-14-4)
TV: FS-D, FS-A
Last 10: Detroit 6-3-1; Phoenix 3-6-1
Season series: This is the first of three meetings. The Red Wings took three of four from the Coyotes last season, although Phoenix won the last meeting, 3-1, at Jobing.com Arena.
Big story: Two teams trending in opposite directions will face off Monday in Phoenix. Detroit has won four of five, including two straight against the Western Conference’s hottest team in Anaheim. Phoenix, meanwhile, have lost five straight and may be without starting goaltender Mike Smith.
Red Wings: If Detroit makes a deep postseason run this spring, count on pundits harking back to the team’s most recent stretch. After failing to coalesce during the first half of the season, the Red Wings have won four of five and appear to be hitting their stride at the right moment.
The Red Wings announced themselves to the rest of the conference over the weekend, when they played Anaheim twice in a row at the Honda Center. In the first, Justin Abdelkader scored a hat trick as the Red Wings throttled the Ducks 5-1 to snap their franchise-record home win streak.
And on Sunday, Daniel Cleary and Drew Miller scored first-period goals in a 2-1 win as Detroit again played effective defense down the stretch and suddenly, Anaheim’s winning streak had turned into a losing skid.
"I think a lot of people outside this locker room didn't really think that [this would happen]," said Miller, a former Duck. "Coming into Anaheim, they say they might take one out of two. But I know the mindset in here was we're going to come in here and play hard and we want to get wins every single night. The two wins now are huge and we've got to build off the positives and keep going."
Coyotes: Before departing on their recent four-game road trip, the Coyotes won two straight against Dallas and Los Angeles and were looking to climb into playoff contention. Then they didn’t score a goal for three games. In all, their 0-3-1 road trip saw them outscored 10-2 in regulation.
Phoenix was back at home Thursday against Vancouver, and again struggled to score in a 2-1 loss – its fifth straight overall. To add injury to insult, the starter Smith left the game after being charged by Alexander Edler late in the second period.
“Our execution around the net was poor. We hit the goalie's crest more than any team I've seen in a long time,” coach Dave Tippett said. “The margin for error is so slim when you're not scoring enough. There's effort there, but we're just not doing enough to win – with our legs, hands and our mind.”
Who’s hot: Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard saved 33 of 34 shots in each of the Anaheim wins. He’s 8-2-2 in his last 12 starts and has allowed three or more goals just twice over that stretch.
Injury report: Mikael Samuelsson is day-to-day for Detroit with a hand injury. Kyle Quincey (face), Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Darren Helm (back) will continue to miss time with their injuries. … Smith is day-to-day with the undisclosed injury suffered in Thursday’s game against Vancouver, and David Moss (lower body) and Zbynek Michalek (lower body) are also day-to-day.
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