Red Wings host Flames, welcome back Vanek
DETROIT — A pair of struggling teams coming off one-goal losses meet Sunday when the Detroit Red Wings host the Calgary Flames at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings (8-9-1) lost 1-0 to the Capitals in Washington on Friday night while the Flames (7-11-1) dropped a 3-2 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night in Calgary.
Detroit is 2-7-1 in its past 10 games.
“I think it's only human to get a little frustrated,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg told www.mlive.com. “I think it's easy to get frustrated when you're doing good things, when you correct mistakes, you're playing better and you don't get points. But we've got to see the positive in it, too, and stay with it. Eventually we will get our wins.”
Detroit seemed to play well enough to win in its last two games, but has nothing to show for it.
The Red Wings lost 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday on Nikita Kucherov's goal with 1:10 left. On Friday, Washington's Jay Beagle scored the only goal of the game with 5:11 to play.
“These are the ones you want to win, or least get to overtime and get a point and have a chance for the two,” Zetterberg said after Friday night's game. “Leaving here with nothing is hard but we've got to try to see the positive in what we did better than before and keep going from there.”
The 10-game slide coincides with the absence of left winger Thomas Vanek, who missed the past 11 games with a hip strain.
He is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday.
“I think a lot of the guys will feel some of the weight come off their shoulders with him back in the lineup,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “He's really good around the net, he's really good at deflections, little re-directions.”
Before Vanek was injured, he led the team with four goals and eight points in seven games. Detroit was 3-7-1 without him, only averaged 1.64 goals per game, were shut out three times and only 5-for-40 on the power play.
“He's a big player for us,” Justin Abdelkader said. “Obviously, he got off to that great start. It was tough to see him go down with injury. He'll come in and bring a veteran presence. He's really strong on the puck and he's got a great shot.”
Center Darren Helm, one of Vanek's linemates, is out 6-to-8 weeks after suffering a dislocated shoulder against Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
The Flames have injury issues of their own.
Star forward Johnny Gaudreau will also miss 6-to-8 weeks because of a broken finger on his right hand suffered in the 1-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
A slash by Eric Staal caused the injury and Calgary said that Gaudreau was slashed 11 times in the game without a penalty call.
“There are tactics with good players, but when you chop a guy in the hand there's a rule that says you can't do that,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving told the Calgary Herald. “We're not naive — do we whack guys, too? Probably. But the frustration comes when that turns into a player being out for an extended period of time.”