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GAME PREVIEW (Associated Press)
The Detroit Red Wings have faced little adversity through the first two weeks of the season.
That will change as the defending champions look to get by without one of their top scorers for approximately a month, starting in the second of a five-game road trip Monday night against the Los Angeles Kings.
As Detroit (6-1-1) looks to extend its overall winning streak to five games while trying to remain perfect on the road this season, it must do so without forward Johan Franzen, who is out three to four weeks with a sprained left knee. Franzen, second on the team with five goals, was injured during a collision in a 6-5 shootout victory at Chicago on Saturday.
"Obviously, he's hurt," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said of Franzen, who had a goal in Saturday's contest.
Though losing Franzen is a blow to the Red Wings, they aren't lacking in offensive talent with six other players posting two goals or more for a club tied for the NHL lead with 31 goals.
On Saturday, Jiri Hudler and Niklas Kronwall each had a goal and two assists, while Marian Hossa stayed hot with a goal, an assist and the shootout winner as Detroit rallied from two goals down with three third-period goals.
"We played on back-to back nights, so it was good to come back from down 4-2 in the opposition rink," said Babcock, whose team is 6-for-17 on the power play while going 4-0-0 on the road this season.
Hossa, who signed a one-year, $7.45 million contract with the Red Wings last summer, has four goals and seven assists in eight games. He has three and two assists in his last two contests and has five of his six goals against Los Angeles in his last two contests versus the Kings.
Ty Conklin made 36 saves Saturday to improve to 3-0-0, but No. 1 goaltender Chris Osgood is likely to be back in net trying for a third straight win. Osgood is 3-1-1 with a 3.20 goals-against average this season and 16-10-0 with four ties and a 2.32 GAA against Los Angeles.
Detroit went 3-1-0 versus Los Angeles in 2007-08 and outscored the Kings 7-1 in winning both meetings at Staples Center.
Los Angeles (3-4-0) opens a season-long seven-game homestand looking to bounce back from a 5-4 loss at Nashville on Saturday. Jarret Stoll had two goals while Patrick O'Sullivan and Anze Kopitar each added a pair of assists for the Kings, who trailed 3-0 after one period.
Stoll, who spent his previous five seasons with Edmonton before being traded to Los Angeles in June, leads the team with four goals and has three and three assists in his career against Detroit.
Los Angeles' Jason LaBarbera was pulled after allowing three goals on 15 shots Saturday, one night after making 15 saves for in a 4-0 win at St. Louis. LaBarbera is 3-3-0 with a 2.88 GAA this season and 1-3-1 with a 4.24 GAA all-time versus Detroit.
Rookie Erik Ersberg is 0-1-0 with a 1.83 GAA in two games, but has yet to make a start this season, or face Detroit during his career.
INJURIES Los Angeles Kings
Marc-Andre Cliche (Separated shoulder on 10/06/08) IR
Richard Clune (Chest injury on 10/06/08) IR
Jack Johnson (Shoulder injury on 10/13/08) IR
John Zeiler (Strained groin on 10/03/08) IR
Detroit Red Wings
Chris Chelios (Fractured right tibia on 10/02/08) IR
Johan Franzen (Left game - knee on 10/25/08) day-to-day
Exactly. This game will come down to goaltending, in which Detroit has the obvious edge. We have to play goal for goal with this team and not fall behind by more than two at any point, otherwise it's lights out. We also have to stay out of the penalty box. Period. Nashville gave our PK quite a stinging dose of reality.
Handzus needs to step it up big time tonight. He needs to anchor that checking line and limit Datsyuk and co. to as little chances as possible.
Brown and Kopitar need to really step it up, as well.
If Labarbera can make a big save or two and hold Detroit to three goals or less, we have a shot.
The Kings will be fine if they can actually get into the offensive zone. I'm still not entirely sold on our ability to carry the puck through a good neutral zone defense. They probably won't take a lot of penalties either, so we're not going to get a lot of free chances to set up. I do believe Detroit can be pounded back down to earth though, so if we come out full throttle and dictate the style/tempo of play (like we were against the Ducks - high speed and hard hitting), we can take them. If we let them play their puck possession game and rely on the dump-and-chase for our offense, they're going to win 4-1.
I don't think either team has good goaltending, to be honest. Could easily be a high-scoring affair. Osgood has a 3.2 GAA playing behind that defense? Conklin worries me much more. The way Detroit moves the puck around, the Kings need at least 4 tonight to have a chance at a point, IMO.
Detroit are the champs, but this year they are really not dominating like they were, even though they have only lost one game in regulation. The Kings will stay close tonight. It's going to come down to our traditional ability to beat the Wings vs. their ability to find a way to win. Should be fun!