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Wings look to regroup; Pens have edge

by Mike G. Morreale
The defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings will look to rebound from one of their worst defensive games of the season when they travel to Anaheim tonight to face the Ducks. (10 p.m. ET)

The game marks the third meeting between the Western Conference foes with each already earning a victory in the season series.

The Wings, who lead the Central Division with 29 wins and 64 points, are still seething after a 5-4 overtime loss to Dallas Monday that snapped their six-game winning streak. It was Detroit's worst defeat since dropping a 4-3 shootout decision to Colorado on Dec. 27.

One player looking forward to the matchup is veteran center Henrik Zetterberg, who has 8 goals and 5 assists in his last 11 games against the Ducks. It would not only benefit the Wings, but help Zetterberg's confidence if he did get on the score sheet this evening -- he has been held scoreless in 11 of Detroit's past 13 games. Zetterberg had 10 goals in his first 13 games, but has just 16 on the season after scoring a career-best 43 in 2007-08.

One area that could go a long way in determining tonight's outcome will be Anaheim's power play. The Ducks, second in the Pacific Division with 22 wins and 49 points, enter the contest ranked eighth in the NHL with the man advantage with a 21.3 percent efficiency (37-for-174). The Wings penalty-killers rank 21st in the NHL at 80.4 percent (35-for-179).

The showdown at Honda Center is one of four games on tap for tonight. Here are some news and notes prior to opening face-off.

* The Pittsburgh Penguins lead the all-time series against the Washington Capitals, 86-76-16, including a 51-30-7 mark at Mellon Arena. The Penguins are 7-2-0 in their last nine games against the Caps. Pens center Sidney Crosby, who currently ranks second in the NHL with 57 points (17 goals), is currently on a four-game point streak, posting seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in that span.

* Washington defenseman Mike Green has back-to-back multiple-point games and 10 points (3 goals) in the last eight contests. Washington is 20-8-3 with Green in the lineup and just 7-6-0 when the NHL's top points-per-game defenseman (0.97) was out with an injury. Green is among the NHL leaders in goals and points by a defenseman despite missing 13 games to injury. His 9 power-play goals lead the team and all NHL defensemen. Green has 21 points (7 goals) over his last 18 games and ranked third among NHL defensemen in points in calendar year 2008 (61).

* Anaheim center Ryan Getzlaf, who last week was named a starter for the Western Conference in the 57th NHL All-Star Game, enters tonight's game on a six-game point streak (7 assists, 8 points) and right wing Bobby Ryan has earned points in five of the last six games (6 goals, 8 points). Defensively, Scott Niedermayer has collected points in three of the last five games (5 assists) and Chris Pronger has earned points in seven of the last eight contests (2 goals, 9 points).

* Detroit, which collected 22 victories last year by a margin of three or more goals, has been entrenched in more one-goal battles this season. At the halfway point and through 41 games, the Wings were 15-3-5 in one-goal games (76 percent). In 2007-08, the Wings finished 18-11-7 in games decided by a single goal.

* Atlanta wing Ilya Kovalchuk will play in his first game since being named the Thrashers seventh captain on Sunday. Kovalchuk, the team's leading scorer with 43 points, has 19 goals and 10 assists in 25 career games against Ottawa -- tonight's opponent in Atlanta. It's possible Rich Peverley, who was acquired off waivers from Nashville on Saturday, will join Kovalchuk on Atlanta's top line tonight. In 27 games this season, Peverley has two goals and seven assists. Atlanta's goal-scoring leader, Bryan Little (19 goals), is also expected to return after missing the previous three games with bruised ribs.

* The Ottawa Senators snapped a five-game losing skid on Tuesday with a 5-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Sens (14-21-6), who averaged just 2.22 goals during a 1-7-1 stretch, scored their most since a 5-4 overtime win over Dallas on Dec. 20. The Senators have scored a League-low 98 goals this season. The club will enter Philips Arena in Atlanta tonight with the fewest road victories in the Eastern Conference at 4-14-3.

* Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Tuesday, has held opponents to two or fewer goals in 14 of his 22 appearances this season. He has not lost in regulation on home ice in 2008-09, posting an impressive 7-0-3 ledger. For the season, the native of Sverdlovsk, Russia, has notched a 13-3-4 record with a 2.31 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.

* The line of Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford has recorded 13 points (7 goals, 6 assists) in Buffalo's last three games. Roy and Vanek are each on a five-game point streak -- Roy has 9 points (5 goals) and Vanek has seven (2 goals). Stafford has six points (5 assists) in his last five games while recorded a point in three straight. Roy, incidentally, leads the Sabres with 40 points (16 goals) and has registered a point in 28 of 42 games this season. He's been held scoreless only five times since Nov. 14 and has collected 32 points (14 goals) over that span.
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