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Red Wings, Kings try to strengthen playoff position

by Brian Hedger

RED WINGS (19-15-10) at KINGS (27-13-5)


Last 10: Detroit 4-5-1; Los Angeles 4-5-1

Season series: This is the first of two games between the Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings. They meet again Jan. 18 at Joe Louis Arena.

Big story: Detroit is clinging to a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs while trying to tread water through a spate of injuries that never seems to end. Los Angeles is 2-0-1 since a season-high five-game losing streak. The Kings still hold the third spot in the Pacific Division, but the fourth-place Vancouver Canucks aren't far back of the division's final guaranteed playoff slot.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Detroit comes to L.A. off a 4-1 road loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, a game in which the Red Wings got back rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser from a groin injury but didn't have top center Pavel Datsyuk (lower body). They're also missing four regulars who are on injured reserve.

One guy they've recently gotten back from injury is starting goalie Jimmy Howard, who's been up-and-down in four games since his return. He allowed a pair of bad goals in the loss to the Sharks and was pulled in the second period.

"You got to keep it out of your net," coach Mike Babcock told Ansar Khan of "We're not getting to four [goals]. We’re getting to three, max. You got to keep them to two and under."

Kings: Los Angeles was 1-5-1 in seven games prior to beating the Boston Bruins 4-2 on Thursday at Staples Center. The Kings are hoping that game can help springboard them back to their former winning ways.

Also helping their cause is the return of top goalie Jonathan Quick, who is 2-0-1 since missing 24 games with a lower-body injury. Quick hasn't allowed more than two goals in the three games since returning last Saturday.

"Being out for seven weeks, even in his first game back it seemed like he didn't miss a game," captain Dustin Brown said. "It's impressive and it's a credit to him doing the work that he needed to do to be ready and it's why he's the best goalie [in the NHL]."

Who's hot: Tomas Tatar has scored goals in back-to-back games for the Red Wings. … Kings forward Jeff Carter has recorded at least a point in seven of his past 10 games, scoring seven goals and 10 points.

Injury report: Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (fractured rib), forward Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery), forward Johan Franzen (concussion) and goalie Jonas Gustavsson (groin, neck) are on injured reserve for the Red Wings, who also faced San Jose without Datsyuk and center Darren Helm (groin). … Los Angeles isn't currently missing any regulars for health reasons.

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