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Wings and Coyotes try to end slumps

by Sergei J. Feldman
RED WINGS (39-19-7) at COYOTES (33-23-10)

TV -- FS-Detroit (HD), FS-Arizona+ (HD)

Last 10 -- Detroit 6-3-1; Phoenix 5-4-1

Season series -- Last year's first-round playoff opponents will meet for the fourth and final time this season. Detroit leads the season series 2-1-0, but both wins came in overtime.

Big story -- The Wings wrap up a tough five-game trip in which they won at Buffalo and Los Angeles before losing on consecutive nights at Anaheim and San Jose. The Coyotes are trying to put the brakes on a five-game losing streak that includes a 1-0 loss at Los Angeles on Thursday.

Team scope:

Red Wings -- Yet again, the Red Wings are in the mix for the best record not only in the West, but in the League, trailing Vancouver by just four points. Part of this season's success can be attributed to their impressive road record; the Wings are 22-9-3 away from Joe Louis Arena. But they are 0-1-1 in their first two games this month, and Thursday's 3-1 loss to San Jose left a bitter taste.

"The bottom line is we have to skate better than we did [Thursday] as a group," coach Mike Babcock said.

Coyotes -- It's been a tough week for the Coyotes, who lost a pair of heartbreakers that have left them in danger of dropping out of the top eight in the West. Phoenix rallied from a 2-0 deficit late in the third period to tie Dallas in the final minute, only to give up a goal with just 4.8 seconds remaining in regulation for a 3-2 loss. On Thursday, Phoenix limited Los Angeles to just 18 shots -- but the 18th was a power-play slapper by Jarret Stoll with less than eight minutes left in regulation that resulted in a 1-0 loss.

"We had opportunities to win, had opportunities there in the game and we couldn't find way to score," captain Shane Doan said after the loss to the Kings. "Right now every point is so huge that you have to find ways to get one to give yourself a chance."

Who's hot -- Pavel Datsyuk has been leading the way for Detroit with three goals in his past four games and points in four of the last five games. … For the Coyotes, forward Ray Whitney has 4 points in the past five games.

Injury report -- Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski has missed a week with back spasms and remains day-to-day. … Phoenix remains without defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who is day-to-day with an eye injury.

Stat pack -- Coyotes center Eric Belanger hit the 700-game milestone against the Los Angeles Kings. … Detroit hasn't lost three consecutive games since Dec. 4-8. … The Wings are 7-for-26 on the power play in their last six games.

Puck drop -- Wings forward Johan Franzen became only the second NHL player since 1996 to score five goals when he did it on Feb. 2 at Ottawa. He hasn't had a goal since then, and his drought reached 14 games in the loss at San Jose.

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