RED WINGS (39-18-7) at SHARKS (37-21-6)
TV -- FS-Detroit (HD); CSN-California (HD)
Last 10 -- Detroit 7-2-1; San Jose 8-2-0
Season series -- It's the last of four meetings this season, and the visiting team has won the first three -- including San Jose's 4-3 victory at Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 22.
Big story -- Two of the NHL's best -- and hottest teams will get together at the Shark Tank. San Jose has won seven in a row, including the win at Detroit last week and a 2-1 shootout victory against Colorado on Tuesday. The Wings took a 1-0 lead into the third period at Anaheim on Wednesday, but wound up losing 2-1 in overtime on a penalty shot by Bobby Ryan, snapping their six-game road winning streak.
Red Wings -- The Wings were less than 20 minutes away from a seventh consecutive win away from home, but the Ducks had other ideas. Jason Blake scored to force overtime, and Detroit was unable to capitalize on a power play in overtime before Ryan scored on a penalty shot that was called after Ruslan Salei hooked him on a breakaway.
"They did a good job and put some pressure on us," coach Mike Babcock said. "Their goalie made some saves, and we missed a couple of open nets. The game was set up for us to find a way to get a win, and we didn't."
Sharks -- After spending almost all of February on the road, the Sharks are glad to be back at HP Pavilion. Thursday's game is the second in a six-game homestand, and San Jose has 12 of its last 18 at the Shark Tank, where it has won six in a row.
"We get most of the games at home this month which is fun to play in front of all our fans,” forward Devin Setoguchi told the team's website. “We did a great job being on the road and getting wins, but now we have to play in front of our own fans and get some wins. It’s always exciting to come back and play at the Tank.”
Who's hot -- Pavel Datsyuk scored Detroit's lone goal at Anaheim to reach the 20-goal mark for the seventh season in a row. .... Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi has started 19 games in a row and compiled a 1.85 goals-against average. His GAA is 1.64 during the seven-game winning streak. ... San Jose forward Ryane Clowe has the shootout winner in back-to-back games.
Injury report -- Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski has missed the last two games with back spasms, though he hopes to return for this one. Patrick Eaves is expected to miss another week with a lower-body injury. ... San Jose is still without backup goalie Antero Niittymaki (lower body). Forward Ben Eager and defenseman Dan Boyle are day-to-day with upper-body injuries.
Stat pack -- The Wings have won their last three regular-season visits to San Jose, including a 5-3 win on Nov. 30. ... Detroi's Henrik Zetterberg has 23 points in his last 17 games against the Sharks. ... Niemi is 4-1-1 lifetime with a 2.15 goals-against average against Detroit
Puck drop -- Both teams rewarded their starting goaltenders this week. Detroit re-upped Howard for two years, while San Jose gave Niemi a four-year extension just hours before he helped the Sharks beat Colorado. Niemi is likely to make his 20th consecutive start, but the Wings are expected to play backup Joey MacDonald, who has lost both career decisions against San Jose.