KINGS (31-24-12) at RED WINGS (43-21-3)
TV: KCOP, FS-D
Last 10: Los Angeles 4-5-1; Detroit 5-4-1
Season Series : It's the third of four meetings this season. Detroit has won the first two easily, including an 8-2 victory on Dec. 17 in the Kings' previous visit to Joe Louis Arena.
Big Story: Injuries have helped knock the Wings off their perches atop the Central Division and the Western Conference. But at least Detroit knows it's headed for the playoffs -- and that's more than the Kings can say after missing a chance to move into the top eight in the West after losing at last-place Columbus on Thursday. Winning in Detroit at any time is difficult; beating the Wings at Joe Louis Arena in the second half of a back-to-back is among the NHL's toughest assignments.
Kings: The participants in the big trade between the Kings and Blue Jackets were on the ice in their new uniforms on Thursday -- and it was a clear win for the Jackets. Defenseman Jack Johnson scored the winning goal against his former team as the Blue Jackets dominated in a 3-1 win. Jeff Carter, the scoring center the Kings acquired from Columbus, was booed lustily every time he touched the puck.
Carter has generated only two goals since being acquired -- he scored twice against Anaheim last Saturday. He did little against his former team, much to the delight of the fans at Nationwide Arena.
"I think we kind of struggled right from the get-go," he said. "We weren't skating like we usually do, getting in on pucks and creating turnovers, stuff like that. So it was a tough one.''
Red Wings : Not many teams could survive the loss of their best defenseman (Nicklas Lidstrom), best center (Pavel Datsyuk) and No. 1 goaltender (Jimmy Howard). The Wings are 2-4-1 without Datsyuk (knee surgery), 2-2-0 since Lidstrom went down with an ankle injury and have lost twice since Howard departed with a groin strain after one period on Sunday.
The good news for the Wings is that Datsyuk was on the ice Thursday and could be back soon.
"Nice to come back and skate with teammates," Datsyuk told the team's website. "Every day closer. That's all I can say for sure. I (will) go with team to west coast and we'll see. … I'm on my way."
Who's Hot: Anze Kopitar scored L.A.'s lone goal on Thursday and has seven points during a six-game points streak. Captain Dustin Brown has five goals and 10 points during the same span. … Henrik Zetterberg had Detroit's first goal on Tuesday and is 3-6-9 in his last five games.
Injury Report: The Kings continue to be without forwards Simon Gagne (concussion) and Kevin Westgarth (hand). … In addition to its three stars and Bertuzzi (groin), the Wings are without defensemen Jonathan Ericsson (broken wrist) and Jakub Kindl (upper body), as well as forward Patrick Eaves (concussion).
Stat Pack: The Kings have won three of their last four visits to Detroit after going through a streak in which they dropped 11 of 12. … The Wings have gotten terrific play from Joey MacDonald, who has gone 7-3-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average while filling in for Howard this season.
Puck Drop: Lidstrom, who's missed nearly two weeks with an ankle injury, was finally able to get a skate onto his right foot and step on the ice briefly Thursday. He hopes to be able to play during the West Coast trip that begins next week in Los Angeles.
"It's just that pain when I push off, it hurts, that's the main thing," Lidstrom told the team's website. "A week ago I couldn't put my skate on, it was still swollen. That's come down but it's that deep bone bruise that's hurting me.
"It's getting better, it's getting better every day. My motion is getting better, my movements, my foot's getting better so that's encouraging."