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Wings go for SoCal sweep vs. struggling Ducks

by Davis Harper

RED WINGS (10-7-1) at DUCKS (6-9-4)

TV: FS-Detroit (HD), PRIME (HD)

Last 10: Detroit 5-4-1; Anaheim 1-6-3

Season Series: This is second meeting of the season. Detroit won 5-0 on Nov. 5 at Joe Louis Arena behind Nicklas Lidstrom's two goals and a 50-22 margin in shots on goal.

Big Story: The struggling Ducks hope that Wings coach Mike Babcock follows his usual procedure and sits starter Jimmy Howard in the second half of back-to-backs. Howard, who beat the Kings 4-1 in Los Angeles on Sunday, has three shutouts in his last five meetings with the Ducks, the most he's had against any team. With every goal at a premium, the Ducks would likely rather see Ty Conklin.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Bad news for Anaheim: Hockey's streakiest team looks like it's ready to start winning again. Five wins, six losses, four wins, then two losses before Saturday's 4-1 win in Los Angeles suggest Detroit may be due for a few more wins. Even more ominous, Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader snapped long scoreless streaks - 12 and 15 games, respectively - at the Staples Center.

"It was very important, especially after the way we started the last couple of games," Lidstrom said of the win, which also snapped a five-game road losing streak. "We weren't happy with the way we were playing, but (Saturday) we stuck to our game plan for 60 minutes. We wanted to hang onto the puck, especially in their zone, try to grind their D and get some shots with traffic in front of their goalie."

Ducks: These days, it's not so easy being a Duck. Anaheim has the second-fewest points in the Western Conference (16), and typical offensive buoys are failing to keep the ship afloat. Corey Perry (13 points) and Ryan Getzlaf (11) are All-Stars off to uncommonly quiet seasons -- a big reason the Ducks are off to a bad start.

"I'm confident in this group, and if we keep working the way we are, we'll turn things around," Getzlaf insisted.

History would suggest otherwise, at least against the Red Wings. Perry is scoreless in six meetings, while Getzlaf's drought is eight games. The Ducks' third big gun, Teemu Selanne, has one goal in his last eight games against the Wings.

Who's Hot: Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall has scored four goals in five games. … Selanne has a goal and two assists in his past two games.

Injury Report: Lubomir Visnovsky (broken finger), George Parros (eye), Matt Smaby (right thumb), Jason Blake (wrist) are all on injured reserve for Anaheim. … For Detroit, Jan Mursak (ankle) andIan White (cheekbone) will also sit Sunday.

Stat Pack: Ducks goalies have been nearly as bad against Detroit as Jimmy Howard has been good against them. Likely starter Jonas Hiller (5-7-4) owns a 4.57 GAA against the Wings and has come up empty in their last three meetings. Backup Dan Ellis is impressive only by comparison, at 3-4-1 with a 2.73 GAA lifetime.

Puck Drop: "It's always tough playing from behind and we played from behind most of the night. We got fired up in the game in the third period. We started to play with that emotion and got skating. It seems we have to get hit over the head to get to that point." - Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle on his team, which has conceded the first goal in eight of its last nine games.

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