Red Wings-Ducks Preview
The Detroit Red Wings' longest road trip of the season has featured two games on the East Coast before a cross-country flight to play the first of three in California.
They haven't showed any signs of fatigue yet.
Detroit can win a season-high fourth straight game by snapping a four-game losing streak to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night.
The Red Wings (21-13-7) began their six-game trip with a win over Buffalo on Jan. 2. They beat New Jersey on Monday and flew to San Jose for Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Sharks.
They'll face the Ducks (17-16-7) and then Los Angeles on Monday before concluding the journey Thursday at Arizona. Justin Abdelkader scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period against the Sharks as Detroit got 35 saves from Petr Mrazek, who has provided plenty of help to start the trip.
Mrazek has won each game and has stopped 57 of 58 shots over the last two. He has a 1.83 goals-against average in his last eight appearances - six starts - and made a pair of spectacular saves late in the San Jose game to close it out.
"He's played great for us, especially here lately," Abdelkader said. "I think we've gotten great goaltending throughout the year. Both guys have stepped in when they really needed to. Right now we've been riding Petr lately and he's been playing great. We just got to do a little better job in front of him and make it a little easier on him."
With the Red Wings playing a back-to-back set, it's unclear if Mrazek or Jimmy Howard will get the nod in this contest. Howard is 0-1-2 over his last four starts - he was pulled in another - with a 4.49 GAA.
Coach Jeff Blashill has praised Mrazek lately, and he could choose to ride the hot hand in both games.
"The big thing with Petr is he doesn't get nervous," Blashill said. "The bigger the moment, it doesn't affect his game he just continues to play. I think he enjoys being in those situations. He's got a special mentality that way."
Howard was in net the last time the Red Wings faced the Ducks, a 4-3 shootout defeat Feb. 23 that marked their fourth consecutive loss in the series despite two goals from Pavel Datsyuk.
Anaheim enters this matchup on a 5-1-1 run since the league returned from the holiday break. It beat St. Louis 4-3 in a shootout Friday as Ryan Kesler's second goal of the game tied it early in the third.
Ryan Getzlaf scored the winner in the shootout.
''We knew we needed to buckle down and claw back,'' Kesler said. ''We did a good job of it. It would have been tough not getting that extra point, but the guys battled hard and we deserved that extra point.''
John Gibson made 25 saves and is 5-1-0 with a 1.56 GAA during Anaheim's hot stretch. The Ducks held the Blues scoreless on four power plays and have killed off their opponents' last 26 chances with the man advantage. They lead the league with an 89.4 percent kill rate.
Gibson made 35 saves in the last meeting with Detroit, his only career start against the Red Wings.