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Red Wings seek stabilizing win as they face Kings

by Brian Hedger

KINGS (29-14-5) at RED WINGS (20-17-10)


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

Season series: This will be the final game of the season between the Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings. Detroit, which moved to the Eastern Conference this season, won the first game 3-1 at Staples Center a week ago.

Big story: The Kings have a secure hold on third place in the Pacific Division, the final guaranteed spot for the division in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Red Wings are free-falling down the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division standings.

Detroit (50 points) was two points behind the Washington Capitals for the second wild card spot in the East entering Friday night, but the Red Wings also trail the New Jersey Devils (51 points) and Ottawa Senators (51 points) in that race.

Team Scope:

Kings: Following a five-game losing streak, Los Angeles has posted a 4-1-1 record in its past six games. The Kings have also won back-to-back games for the first time since winning three straight heading into Christmas break.

Their latest victory was a 4-1 win Thursday night at the St. Louis Blues, a physical game against a top Western Conference foe. Goalie Jonathan Quick made 28 saves and stopped all 16 he faced in the third period, but afterward he was cognizant it was just the second stop of a tough five-game road trip.

"The biggest thing is you get a win in regulation against a conference opponent," Quick said. "They are a little ahead in the standings, so I guess it's good to tighten that gap a little bit. We have developed a little bit of a rivalry over the last couple years, but at the end of the day, it counts as two points. You don't get extra points because it's St. Louis."

Red Wings: Detroit has lost two games in a row and has two wins in its past seven. The Red Wings also continue their season-long storyline of dealing with injuries to lineup regulars.

Seven regulars didn't play in Detroit's 1-0 road loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night, but the good news is goalie Jimmy Howard was sharp. He stopped 47 of 48 shots but wound up with a loss because Henrik Lundqvist (38 saves) didn't allow a goal.

“I thought our team played hard the last couple games but we didn’t win,” coach Mike Babcock told reporters after practice Friday. “We got to find a way to get some points. As you can see in the standings we’re not in a good situation. We got to get some traction and get going."

This is the opener of a five-game homestand for Detroit, which hasn't played at Joe Louis Arena since Dec. 23. The Red Wings' only home game since Christmas was a 3-2 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium. Detroit is 6-10-7 at home and is in track to finish below .500 at home for the first time in 28 years.

“Obviously, our home record hasn’t been as good, but [Howard] wasn’t dialed in like he is right now, so that’s a huge part of having success with a group like we have right now,” Babcock said. “We don’t score great; we need awesome goaltending and we’ve been getting it."

Forward Tomas Tatar will be back in the lineup after missing the loss in New York to attend the funeral of his father.

Who's hot: Trevor Lewis, without a goal in his first 38 games this season, scored twice in the third period Thursday to spark the Kings. … Since returning from a knee sprain, Howard has allowed two or fewer goals in four of his six appearances for the Red Wings.

Injury report: Kings defenseman Matt Greene (upper body) did not make the road trip. ... Red Wings center Joakim Andersson (lower body) is day-to-day, center Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), center Darren Helm (shoulder, groin), forward Johan Franzen (upper body), defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder, rib), goalie Jonas Gustavsson (groin, neck), forward Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery) and forward Daniel Alfredsson (groin, back) are all on injured reserve and not expected to play.

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