Kings-Red Wings Preview

The Los Angeles Kings are already returning to the playoffs.

The Detroit Red Wings could use more consistent scoring in their

quest to reach the postseason.

The Red Wings attempt to move into playoff position by building

on their best offensive performance in a month Wednesday night when

they go for a fourth straight home win over the Kings.

Los Angeles (26-15-5) is headed to the playoffs, with only

seeding to play for in its final two games. The reigning Stanley

Cup champions are tied with San Jose for fourth in the Western

Conference, one point ahead of St. Louis. The Kings hold the

tiebreaker on both teams.

Detroit (21-16-8) sits ninth in the conference, one point back

of Columbus for the eighth and final playoff position and two in

front of Dallas.

The Red Wings have a game in-hand on both teams, as they look to

extend the franchise’s postseason streak to 22 years – the first

without Steve Yzerman or Nicklas Lidstrom as a captain.

“Of course, taking over the captaincy, it means a lot to me for

this team to do well,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’ve been doing

good the past 21 seasons and we want to keep that going.”

The Red Wings are trying to build some momentum after beating

Phoenix 4-0 on Monday, severely denting the Coyotes’ chances of

reaching the playoffs. It was Detroit’s highest scoring output

since a 5-1 win at Anaheim on March 22.

The offensive struggles have increased the pressure on Jimmy

Howard, who is doing his part with a 1.77 goals-against average

during a 6-5-3 stretch that started with that win over the Ducks.

He owns a 1.25 GAA over the last seven games, but the Wings are


Coach Mike Babcock was asked if Howard was good enough to carry

the offensively challenged team.

“He has to,” he said.

Johan Franzen is giving Detroit some scoring punch, netting five

goals in five games after scoring twice against the Coyotes.

The Red Wings haven’t had a problem finding the net against the

Kings at home, scoring 15 goals while winning the last three

matchups at Joe Louis Arena. That includes a 3-2 victory thanks in

large part to a season-best 45 saves from Howard on Feb. 10.

Howard stopped 27 shots, but gave up a pair of third-period

goals in a 2-1 defeat at Los Angeles on Feb. 27.

The Kings are trying to avoid a sixth straight road loss for the

first time since Feb. 25-March 14, 2009. They lost as the visitor

Tuesday, never recovering from allowing two first-period goals to

fall 2-1 at Minnesota.

“We didn’t play three periods. We didn’t deserve to win the

game,” said captain Dustin Brown, who didn’t even get a shot on

goal after scoring twice in Sunday’s 4-3 overtime win against the


Brown was suspended Wednesday for the final two games of the

season for elbowing Wild forward Jason Pominville on Tuesday


Jeff Carter has two goals and two assists over the past two

games, netting Los Angeles’ goal against the Wild after scoring

with 51 seconds left in OT on Sunday.

The right wing, fourth in the NHL with 26 goals, has three

scores and three assists in four meetings with Detroit as a member

of the Kings.

Anze Kopitar has found the net once in each of the last three

games versus the Red Wings, but enters this meeting on a 14-game

goal drought.