If the Anaheim Ducks want to make the playoffs, they may have to play well on their longest road trip of the season. However, they'll open the six-game trek in Detroit - one of their least favorite places to play.
Looking to avoid a third consecutive defeat, the Ducks begin their 11-day trip Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, where they've won three times in their 15-season history.
Anaheim (28-26-5) is 3-20-3 with three ties in Detroit, and 1-8-2 in its last 11 there. This critical six-game stretch also features matchups with three teams ahead of the Ducks in the Western Conference - Chicago, Columbus and Dallas - as well as a meeting with NHL-leading Boston.
"It will be tough. We're playing some good teams on the road," Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer said. "But, maybe that is what the doctor ordered, get out together and us against everybody else. We'll see how it goes."
Anaheim is 14-18-1 since Dec. 1, when a 2-1 defeat at Joe Louis snapped its season high-tying four-game winning streak. The Ducks, who have fallen out of playoff position, haven't won more than two in a row since.
Anaheim's recent play on the road doesn't inspire confidence that it will get on a much-needed hot streak during this trip. Starting with the defeat at Detroit, the Ducks have gone 6-11-1 in their last 18 away from home.
"We are not comfortable with where we're at," coach Randy Carlyle said. "We haven't played to a high enough level. We're in a situation where if we don't get points, it's a grim outlook."
The Ducks have given up 12 goals in their back-to-back losses, the most recent a 4-3 defeat to Los Angeles on Wednesday night. Four of the 12 goals came on the power play.
That could spell trouble against the Red Wings, who scored a season-high five power-play goals Wednesday night en route to a 6-2 victory over visiting Nashville. Detroit (38-12-8), locked in a tight battle with San Jose for the West lead, will be playing the second game on a three-game homestand.
"I can't recall that (five power-play goals). It's great to see the offense clicking, especially we had the power play going," said Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, whose team broke a two-game slide. "I thought we had great puck movement out there and a lot of motion, too. It's tough to defend when we can do those things together."
After missing five games with a bruised hand, forward Johan Franzen scored twice and added an assist, and Jiri Hudler had a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to five games.
Hudler has scored in consecutive contests, while Lidstrom has three goals and three assists in his past three.
Since a five-game losing streak to end January, the Red Wings are 7-1-1 and have averaged 4.6 goals. Detroit easily leads the NHL with 221 goals and is the league's top power-play team at 28.1 percent.
Chris Osgood is 2-0-1 with a 2.97 goals-against average versus Anaheim this season, and 14-3-1 with two ties and a 2.57 GAA all-time against them. Backup Ty Conklin is 2-0-0 with a 1.49 GAA in two starts versus the Ducks, but hasn't faced them since Feb. 2, 2004.
The teams have split the last six overall meetings.