The Detroit Red Wings seem to be catching on offensively after a slow start, while the Los Angeles Kings appear to be trending in the opposite direction.
Recent history suggests that a possible matchup against Jimmy Howard could give the Kings issues in Detroit on Friday night.
Detroit (5-2-2) trailed 2-1 entering the third period at Washington on Wednesday before Justin Abdelkader scored twice over a 6:30 span and Pavel Datsyuk, who has six goals in his last seven meetings with the Kings, added a late power-play goal to secure a 4-2 win. Abdelkader’s five goals are halfway to his career high.
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The Red Wings were outshot 27-22, but it marked their second four-goal outing in three games after scoring two or fewer in five of the first six.
"We showed some good character there, falling behind in the second and coming out and playing extremely well in the third," said Howard, who stopped 25 shots.
Henrik Zetterberg had two assists to give him nine along with three goals after injuries limited him to 45 games last season. He has four goals and seven assists in his last eight games against Los Angeles (6-2-2).
Datsyuk’s goal was Detroit’s third on 34 power-play opportunities.
The Kings had 36 shots turned aside in Thursday’s 3-0 loss at Pittsburgh, joining Buffalo as the only teams to be shut out more than twice.
Los Angeles, which was without Anze Kopitar for a second straight game due to an upper-body injury, has scored two or fewer goals seven times and is scoring on just 6.3 percent of shots in its last six contests – though it had won six in a row before dropping the last two.
"We’ve got to get more pucks and more bodies to the net," said defenseman Jake Muzzin, who is at minus-2 after posting a plus-24 rating over the last two seasons. "You know, tips, rebounds, screens, and doing that will lead to our Grade-A scoring chances that we didn’t get too many of tonight, so those are things we need to look at and improve on."
Kopitar was scratched despite participating in the morning skate. He has been somewhat quiet with two goals, one assist and a minus-1 rating in eight games after leading the team with 70 points last season.
The Red Wings have won four of the last five meetings, with Howard starting each time and posting a 1.58 goals-against average.
Martin Jones made 20 saves Thursday for Los Angeles with Jonathan Quick resting. Though the Kings will be happy to have Quick back – he has a 1.14 GAA during a 5-0-1 stretch – he is 2-7-1 with a 3.48 GAA over his last 10 starts against Detroit.
The Kings had limited opponents to four power-play goals on 30 opportunities before letting the Penguins go 2 for 6.
Including playoffs, Detroit is 25-6-0 with two ties in the last 33 meetings at home. The Red Wings have won the past five matchups at Joe Louis Arena, beating Quick each time as he’s registered a 3.57 GAA.