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Wings try to end slide vs. slumping Oilers

by Deborah Francisco
OILERS (23-37-8) at RED WINGS (39-20-8)


Last 10: Edmonton 5-5-0; Detroit 4-4-2

Season series: This is the final meeting of the four-game series between the Red Wings and Oilers. Detroit won the first three, each by two or more goals. Todd Bertuzzi scored twice in their last meeting on Jan. 4 to lead Detroit to a 5-3 victory at Rexall Place.

Big story: The Wings have lost considerable ground in the Western Conference standings by dropping their last four games and now trail Vancouver by nine points in the race for first place in the West. The Oilers, playing the third of a four-game road trip, are at the bottom of the League standings with 54 points.

Team Scope:

Oilers: After stringing together three straight wins, Edmonton has dropped its last two games, including a 5-0 drubbing in Washington on Wednesday night. The Oilers gave up two power-play goals in the second period and allowed three more goals in the third period.

"We did not manage the game well because we didn't manage the puck well." coach Tom Renney said. "This is one of those games you don't like talking about in March," he said. "I can see maybe the first half of year, but this is March now. I don't care who we're playing and how they're touted, the thing is we have to play our game and tonight we deviated in a big way from that. And that's disappointing."

Red Wings: The Wings were on a roll until a 2-1 overtime loss at Anaheim last Wednesday; since then, they've gone 0-2-2 -- their longest losing streak so far this season. Despite the four-game skid, Detroit still holds the second seed in the Western Conference.

The Wings dropped their third in a row at home when the Los Angeles Kings came to Joe Louis Arena and left with a 2-1 victory.

"I thought the third period was a muddy track, like you expected against a team that is checking and you're working and you're pushing," coach Mike Babcock said. "It was a tight game, we had every opportunity to win the game, we didn't find a way. We've just got to keep playing like that and starting like we did and getting pucks ahead and shooting pucks and going to the net."

Who's hot: Darren Helm has 3 points in his last two games including Detroit's lone goal in Wednesday's contest. He's scored three times in Detroit's last five games and made him the 11th Wing to hit double figures.

Injury report: Edmonton is without Sam Gagner (hand surgery), Taylor Hall (ankle) and Ryan Whitney (ankle) for the remainder of the season. Gagner was injured Wednesday night and had surgery Thursday to repair a cut tendon. Taylor Chorney (upper body), Ales Hemsky (shoulder) and Theo Peckham (head) are also out. … Defenseman Brian Rafalski remains day-to-day with a back injury for Detroit, and forward Patrick Eaves is still out with a lower-body injury. Goalie Chris Osgood is nearing a return from sports hernia surgery. The Wings recalled defenseman Doug Janik from AHL Grand Rapids in case Brad Stuart (ankle) isn't ready to go.

Stat pack: Don't be surprised if the Wings end the night with more shots on goal. Detroit is third in the NHL with an average of 33.1 shots per game. The Oilers are next-to-last, averaging just 26.6 through 68 games.

Puck drop: The Wings have dominated for long stretches during the last two games, but left with a 5-4 shootout loss at Phoenix and the 2-1 loss to the Kings. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall said Detroit can't continue having letdowns if it wants to win.

"We just have to keep going after them for 60 minutes," he said after the loss to L.A.." Right now we're not playing for 60 minutes -- and that's why we're losing."

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