Wings continue California road trip against Ducks
RED WINGS (16-4-2) at DUCKS (13-11-3)
TV: FS-D (HD), KDOC (HD)
Detroit 8-1-1; Anaheim 4-4-2
Third of four meetings this season, and the first at Honda Center. Anaheim will look to turn the tables after Detroit won twice on its home ice during the month of October. Jimmy Howard stopped all 21 shots he faced as the Red Wings won 4-0 on opening night Oct. 8, then Pavel Datsyuk scored with 12 seconds left in regulation for a 5-4 victory on Oct. 23.
While the Ducks are challenging for first place in the Pacific Division, where no one team seems to be able to take control, the Red Wings have reasserted themselves as the team to beat in the Central. They've opened up a four-point lead and have games in hand on all their rivals -- including five on the defending division and Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, their closest competition.
This is the middle game of a California road trip for Detroit that concludes Saturday in Los Angeles. It began in San Jose on Tuesday with Henrik Zetterberg scoring a pair of goals as the Red Wings won 5-3 in a rematch of a second-round playoff series last spring in which they were eliminated in five games by the Sharks. Datsyuk, one of Zetterberg's linemates, marveled at his first goal, scored when he batted a puck out of mid-air baseball-style early in the second period.
"Hank's goal in the air, it's awesome," Datsyuk said. "It's nice to see. I've only watched somebody on the other team score a similar goal and I was just, 'Wow.' Now I have a first-row seat to see Hank's."
While it isn't likely he'll be riding shotgun alongside top center Ryan Getzlaf
anytime soon, George Parros
did something Wednesday that Anaheim fans are more accustomed to seeing from Getzlaf or one of his regular linemates, Corey Perry
and Bobby Ryan
-- he scored a pair of goals to spark a 5-3 win over Florida. The Ducks' other goals were scored by Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan, one apiece, as they undoubtedly look to protect their jobs from Parros and his sudden scoring surge.
"I was feeling really good," Parros said in an on-ice interview following the game. "It seemed like the pucks were coming to me tonight."
Zetterberg added a pair of assists Tuesday for a four-point night, while Datsyuk has 1 goal and 4 assists over the Red Wings' last two games. Danny Cleary has goals in consecutive games. … In the past three games for the Ducks, Ryan has 4 goals, Getzlaf has 1 goal and 5 assists and Perry has 2 goals and 3 assists.
Detroit goalie Chris Osgood is healthy again following a groin injury and is expected to start Saturday in Los Angeles. Forwards Mike Modano (wrist) and Kris Draper (sports hernia) are on injured reserve. … Anaheim forward Joffrey Lupul
is on an AHL conditioning assignment as he nears his return from a career-threatening back injury. For the moment he remains on injured reserve along with forward Jason Jaffray
Howard has 27 wins in his last 33 regular-season starts for the Red Wings. … Jonas Hiller
has won three-straight starts for the Ducks, including a shutout of the Kings on Monday, and posts a 2.33 goals-against average and .925 save percentage over that span.
Anaheim appears to be on an upswing again, having won three in a row following dueling six-game winning and losing streaks that accounted for most of its month of November. Detroit had its hands full in the last matchup between these clubs and that figures to once again be the case Friday.