Following their most disappointing loss of the season, the Detroit Red Wings should be more than happy to visit the St. Louis Blues.
The Red Wings look to continue their mastery of the Blues on the road Tuesday when the Central Division rivals meet in the opener of a home-and-home series.
Detroit (14-7-4) appeared headed for its third straight win Saturday at home against San Jose, but the Sharks scored two goals off turnovers in the final 3:31, sending the Red Wings to a 3-2 loss.
"We stopped making the easy play," forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "We started trying to make the hardest play."
Forward Kris Draper was asked if it was the toughest loss to take of the season.
"Yeah, it is," he said. "Similar to Vancouver (a 4-3 overtime loss on Nov. 22). They didn't have much going on either. The only thing you can say about that is we got a point out of that. Tonight we get nothing."
Instead of a three-game win streak, the Red Wings now have losses in six of eight games (2-4-2) since matching a franchise record with nine straight victories.
"You look at what we've done the last 10 days or two weeks, the points that we've given up, those are going to be important down the stretch," Draper said. "You can't do that early in a season."
With games on back-to-back nights, Wings coach Mike Babcock gave rookie goalie Joey MacDonald his third career start on Saturday. Babcock hasn't started 41-year-old Dominik Hasek on consecutive nights this season, a trend Babcock says won't last the entire season.
"We're going to change our mind around December, around the end of December, around Christmastime," Babcock said. "Once in a while, he'll play back-to-back."
The Red Wings and Blues have split two meetings this season, with each winning on the road.
Detroit's 3-2 victory Oct. 28 was its sixth straight road win in the series. In their last 19 visits to St. Louis, the Red Wings have 12 wins, five ties and two overtime losses. Detroit last regulation loss there came on Dec. 26, 1998.
"I don't know what it is but we've been struggling against them," Blues defenseman Christian Backman said. "We've definitely got to find a way to beat them."
St. Louis (7-15-3) has lost a season-high four straight since beating the Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout Nov. 24.
The Blues lost more than a game with a 5-2 defeat Friday at Chicago, as goaltender Curtis Sanford sustained a pulled groin that will keep him out of action six to eight weeks.
Jason Bacashihua was recalled from Peoria of the AHL to take Sanford's place on the roster. Manny Legace, in his first season with the Blues after six the Red Wings, will see the majority of the playing time in Sanford's absence.
"We have a busy schedule coming up, so Manny will get a bulk of the load," Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. "But Bacashihua, with the year he had here last year, is certainly capable of playing here. So, it's a good opportunity for him to step in here and move forward."
Despite the presence of skilled veterans Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight and Bill Guerin, St. Louis' power play is among the league's worst. That unit is 3-for-42 in the last 11 games.