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Red Wings, Blues searching for answers to slumps

by Tal Pinchevsky

RED WINGS (4-4-1) at BLUES (6-3-0)

TV: FS-Detroit, FS-Midwest

Season series: This is the third of five meetings this season between these Central Division rivals, who will face off four times in the season's first four weeks before concluding their season series on April 7 in Detroit. St. Louis dismantled the Red Wings 6-0 in their season opener before the Wings got some revenge with a 5-3 win on Feb. 1. Detroit went 4-2-0 against St. Louis last season, winning all three contests played at Joe Louis Arena.

Big story: Both teams are mired in a two-game losing skid and hoping to snap that streak with a big division win. Goaltending has been a problem for these clubs lately, as Jimmy Howard has posted an .843 save percentage in his last two games while St. Louis' goaltenders sport a woeful .796 save percentage in the same span.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Detroit showed signs of rust early on this season, starting the year with a 3-2-1 record. But there could be some cause for alarm after consecutive losses to last-place teams, including a 4-2 loss in Columbus on Saturday.

Returning home Tuesday to open a run in which they will play eight of 11 games at the Joe, Detroit hosted Calgary, who posted the League's worst record coming into the game. Despite their early-season struggles, the Flams opened the scoring when captain Jarome Iginla notched his first goal of the season just 3:24 into the game. Curtis Glencross doubled that lead on the power player just over 10 minutes later.

Johan Franzen's power-play goal in the second cut into Calgary's lead, but Dennis Wideman's wrist shot eluded Jimmy Howard with just 24 seconds remaining in the period to send the Flames on their way to a 4-1 win. Despite Franzen's goal, Detroit ranks 25th with the man advantage and Howard allowed four goals on just 23 Flames shots, although he did manage to stop Iginla on a penalty shot in the middle frame.

Blues: St. Louis came out flying early this season, posting a 6-1-0 record in January. But since starting the month with a 5-3 loss in Detroit, the Blues are winless in two games in February. Hosting the lowest-scoring team in the League on Tuesday, statistics dictated that it would be an easy night for the Blues, who allow a League-best 21.3 shots per game.

But division rival Nashville had other ideas. With starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak out with injury, the Predators feasted on St. Louis' defense. Ryan Ellis opened the scoring 2:10 into the game before Rich Clune notched his first NHL goal later in the period. By the time Kevin Klein and Gabriel Bourque scored a minute apart in the second period, the Predators led 5-0 in St. Louis and had chased Brian Elliott, who allowed four goals on 11 shots. Rookie backup Jake Allen didn't fare much better and the Predators ran away with a 6-1 victory despite being outshot 28-10 in the last two periods.

"This is a team loss that has been coming for a little while. We're allowing the other teams' competitiveness to frustrate us," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It pushes us into individual hockey rather than team hockey."

Who’s hot: Captain Henrik Zetterberg leads the Wings with 13 points and has 11 points in his last six games. Franzen has scored in consecutive games and has eight points in his current six-game point streak. … For the Blues, Alex Pietrangelo scored the lone goal against Nashville and has five points in his last five games. Rookie Valdimir Tarasenko has five points in his last six games while David Perron has seven points in his last five games.

Injury report: The Red Wings' infirmary is a busy place, as their injured reserve list includes Brendan Smith (shoulder), Jan Mursak (collarbone), Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder). Center Darren Helm (back) is out indefinitely, as are goaltenders (Jonas Gustavsson (groin) and Joey MacDonald (back). … Halak, who is nursing a strained groin, is St. Louis' only missing player.

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