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Red Wings-Avalanche Preview @NHLdotcom

The Detroit Red Wings haven't been playing like the best team in the NHL lately.

They'll be trying to end their longest losing streak in 17 years on Monday when they visit the Colorado Avalanche.

Jimmy Howard made his first start of the season Sunday after replacing Chris Osgood in the previous two games. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Red Wings (41-15-5) own the best record in the league, but they have not won since a 3-2 overtime victory at Minnesota on Feb. 5. By dropping its last six games, Detroit is riding its worst losing streak since a seven-game skid from Jan. 14-30, 1991.

The Red Wings, who are coming off Sunday's 1-0 loss in Dallas, have scored more than two goals only once during the losing streak while getting outscored by a 21-10 margin. Henrik Zetterberg, who leads the team with 33 goals and 71 points, has not scored in five straight games after netting six goals in his previous six.

"It's terrible, what can you say," Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom said. "We have to find a way to get out of this slump."

Goalie Jimmy Howard made his first start of the season Sunday in place of Chris Osgood, who is 0-4-0 with a 5.73 goals-against average in his last four starts. Osgood was pulled in the previous two games and replaced by Howard, who was called up from the minors last week due to Dominik Hasek being sidelined by a hip injury.

While it remains unclear when Hasek will get back in net, the Red Wings could get some help on Monday with defenseman Brian Rafalski hoping to return. Rafalski, who has not played since Tuesday because of a groin injury, has 10 goals and 36 assists and is plus-20 on the season.

Detroit also hopes to continue its recent domination of the Avalanche (30-24-5). The Red Wings have won 13 of the last 16 meetings, including seven of nine in Denver.

Detroit has won all three matchups this season, outscoring Colorado 7-2 and posting shutouts in the last two meetings. However, Hasek was in goal for all three games.

Osgood has failed to win any of his last four starts against the Avalanche, going 0-1-1 with two ties and a 3.09 GAA.

The Avalanche fell 2-1 in Chicago on Sunday for their third straight loss - one shy of their season high. Jaroslav Hlinka scored with 2:25 left in the third period for Colorado, which has scored just once in each of the three defeats.

Jose Theodore, who has lost his last four starts against the Red Wings, made 25 saves.

"Today was not good," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I didn't like how we played. We were on the receiving end all night."

The Avalanche remained in ninth place in the Western Conference standings, one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

"We would have got lucky to get it to overtime, but we weren't pleased with how we played today at all," Quenneville said. "We were in our end a lot. We didn't have the puck a lot. We made several direct passes from our stick to their sticks without pressure. That's not our game."

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