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Wings try to end offensive slump in St. Louis

by Brian Compton /

RED WINGS (11-9-4) at BLUES (10-9-4)

Last 10 -- Detroit 4-5-1; St. Louis 4-3-3

Season series -- This is the third of six meetings between the teams, and the first since the NHL Premier Series in Stockholm on Oct. 2-3. The Blues swept those two games, winning 4-3 and 5-3.

Big story -- Despite a sluggish start, a victory on Saturday would pull the Blues even with the Red Wings in the Central Division standings. St. Louis is aiming for its third straight win following Friday's 3-1 victory at Nashville.

Team Scope:

Red Wings -- Truth be told, it's been a tough couple of games in Detroit.

With Friday's 3-0 loss to the Calgary Flames, the Wings haven't scored in 153 minutes, 22 seconds. The defending Western Conference champs have been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since December 2001 and the first time at home in 32 years. They lost 2-0 to Atlanta on Wednesday.

But it certainly isn't due to a lack of effort. Detroit forward Dan Cleary had two goals waved off on Friday, when the Wings fired 40 shots on net. They also had 40 in the loss to Atlanta.

"I was disappointed," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "The first one, Cleary was in the crease, there's no contact made, the referee said (Miikka Kiprusoff) couldn't make the save. That's not how I saw it, but I have the replay. The second one, it's a goal for sure. We can't so anything about that now. We've just got to worry about how we're playing and keep playing as hard as we possibly can."

Blues -- St. Louis enters Saturday's action with some momentum -- and strong goaltending. Chris Mason made 37 saves against the Predators -- his former club -- on Friday night to help the Blues pull within two points of Detroit as they attempt to climb up the division and conference standings.

''It was emotional,'' Mason said. ''The Predators are known for their work ethic. That's what puts them above other teams. They never quit. If the ref doesn't blow the whistle their players are not going to stop.''

Who's hot -- Despite the Wings' recent woes offensively, Henrik Zetterberg is still averaging a point per game with 9 goals and 15 assists in 24 contests. … Blues defenseman Erik Johnson, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last five games.

Injury report -- Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall is out 4-8 weeks with a sprained knee following a collision with Montreal forward Georges Laraque. Jason Williams could miss another two months with a fractured right fibula. Valtteri Filppula will likely miss another month due to a broken wrist. Johan Franzen (torn ACL) is out until at least the Olympic break, while Andreas Lilja is out indefinitely due to post-concussion syndrome. … For the Blues, forward D.J. King is out with a broken hand. He could miss up to another month.

Stat pack -- The Red Wings have lost five of their last six games and have lost four in a row at Joe Louis Arena for the first time in almost two years. They hadn't been blanked in back-to-back home games since losing to Boston and Montreal in March 1977 at the Olympia.

Puck drop -- Given the effort they have been putting forth, you'd have to think the pucks will start going in for Detroit awfully soon. In the meantime, the Wings must remain focused and find a way to beat the only team they're still ahead of in the Central Division.

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