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Struggling Wings host inconsistent Wild @NHLdotcom

WILD (31-28-6) at RED WINGS (31-23-12)

Last 10 -- Wild 4-4-2; Red Wings 4-4-2

Season series -- This is the third of four meetings. On Jan. 21, Drew Miller scored his first career shootout goal in the eighth round to give Detroit a 4-3 road win. The Wild overcame a 3-1 deficit with third-period goals from Martin Havlat and Andrew Brunette. On Jan. 27, Minnesota took a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes and held on for a 5-2 home win. Antti Miettinen got the Wild going with a pair of first-period goals, and goalie Josh Harding made 26 saves.

Big story -- Two teams currently out of the playoff picture and coming off disappointing losses meet. Both the Red Wings and Wild have only four wins in their last 10 games. Detroit has qualified for the playoffs in 18 straight seasons, but that streak is in jeopardy. "We play one, then not the next one," coach Mike Babcock said. "We need to put a string together."

Minnesota is trying to avoid back-to-back non-playoff seasons. "I really think in this room, we don't think we're out of it," defenseman Greg Zanon told the Star-Tribune. "We're going to have to win quite a few games coming down the stretch, but I think we have the guys we need to do it.''

Team scope:

Wild -- Minnesota is beginning a two-game road trip that will also take the Wild to Buffalo on Friday. The Wild last played on Tuesday, losing 3-2 in a shootout at home against Florida.

The Panthers held the Wild to a franchise-tying low 11 shots. Minnesota also matched the season low for shots by any team in the NHL this season. Despite that, the Wild held a 2-0 lead after the first period on goals by Mikko Koivu and Robbie Earl -- but couldn't hang on.

"They controlled play the whole night," defenseman Nick Schultz said. "It's frustrating. It's desperation time this time of year and we came up short."

Red Wings -- This is the middle game of a three-game homestand for Detroit that began with a 4-2 loss against Calgary on Tuesday. Buffalo visits Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.

The Flames' win moved them into eighth place in the Western Conference and pushed Detroit to ninth, one point behind Calgary.

Trailing 1-0 early in the second period, the Red Wings received goals from Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom to take a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes. Calgary answered with three straight goals in the third period, and the Red Wings were booed off the ice by some of their fans at Joe Louis Arena.

"We got outshot 15-4 at home in the third period in a game that desperation on both sides should show," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We were playing against a team that wants to get in the playoffs. We need to show that we want to be in, as well."

Who's hot -- For the Wild, Guillaume Latendresse has 4 goals and an assist in five games, Mikko Koivu has 2 goals and 5 assists in six games, Kyle Brodziak has 2 goals and 2 assists in five games, and Andrew Brunette has 2 goals and 2 assists in five games. For the Red Wings, Henrik Zetterberg has 2 goals and 3 assists in four games, Pavel Datsyuk has 4 goals and 5 assists in six games, Valtteri Filppula has a goal and 2 assists in three games, Nicklas Lidstrom has a goal and 3 assists in three games, and Darren Helm has 2 goals in three games.

Injury report -- Clayton Stoner (hernia) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) are on injured reserve for Minnesota, and forward Cal Clutterbuck (charley horse) is day-to-day. For the Red Wings, Kirk Maltby (shoulder surgery) is on injured reserve.

Stat pack -- Detroit is 11-4-1 all-time at home against the Wild. Minnesota has one win in its last six trips to Joe Louis Arena. … Minnesota has scored the first goal in 10 of its last 14 games. This comes after a stretch where the Wild allowed the first goal in 24-of-32 contests. The Wild is 19-7-1 when scoring first. … Minnesota is 25-7-3 when it scores three or more goals and 6-22-2 when it scores less than three. … Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard is in the running for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. He has started 13 consecutive games and 28 of the last 30. … Detroit's power play has scored at least one goal in seven consecutive games and is 9-for-25 in that span.

Puck drop -- "We had to come out these last two games and regroup and prove to each other that we have a good squad in here, that we have the personnel to do it. It's just a matter of all of us showing up every night and putting it on the line, because that's what it's going to take. As long as we know in here that we have a good, confident squad, that's all that matters." -- Wings defenseman Brad Stuart to the Detroit Free Press

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