The Detroit Red Wings had a disappointing end to a five-game road trip. At home, their inconsistency has been just as frustrating.
The Red Wings look to avoid losing a fourth straight overall and a third in a row at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night when they meet the Los Angeles Kings.
Detroit (39-19-8) has gone 2-3-2 over its last seven games and dropped three in a row – two beyond regulation – to close its trip.
Despite those struggles, the Red Wings are in second place behind Vancouver in the Western Conference, although San Jose and Central Division rival Chicago have narrowed the gap.
They return home after a 5-4 shootout loss at Phoenix on Saturday. Detroit led 4-1 entering the third period but gave up the tying goal with 1:57 remaining, then failed to convert in the shootout.
“We didn’t keep it simple, and you need to do that when you’re up,” center Mike Modano said. “Hockey is basically a territorial game, and when you get a lead, you need to keep your play pretty basic.”
The Red Wings will be looking to rebound at home, where they play 10 of their final 16 games. They are 7-9-2 in Detroit since the start of December and have lost the last two, one shy of their longest home losing streak since dropping three straight Jan. 17-26, 2010.
Slow starts have been a big factor lately, getting outscored 7-1 in the first period of its last four home games.
One of the few positives that came out of the road trip was Johan Franzen snapping a 14-game goal-scoring drought Saturday. It was his first goal since scoring five against Ottawa on Feb. 2. Franzen, who leads the team with 27 goals, has gone six home games without scoring.
Detroit will try to avoid losing four in a row for the first time since Feb. 3-11, 2010.
Los Angeles (36-25-5) has struggled recently as well, but its hold on a playoff spot isn’t as secure. The Kings have dropped two straight and three of four, falling 4-3 in overtime to Dallas on Monday.
Los Angeles blew a pair of one-goal leads in the third period, two days after giving up two goals in the third of a 3-1 defeat to Vancouver.
“We’re a team that if we’re going to make the playoffs, we’re going to need to lock games like these down,” said Justin Williams, who earned his 400th career point with an assist. “We missed an opportunity to jump ahead of these guys in the standings. On the other side, we’re going to make sure that that point isn’t going to stop us from making the playoffs. We have a big road trip coming up, so we’re going to have to have a big push.”
After completing a 3-2-1 homestand, the Kings are back on the road for their next four. They’ve come away with at least one point in 10 of their last 11 road games.
The Red Wings won 7-4 in Los Angeles on Feb. 28 after losing the previous four meetings – two this season.
Kings center Anze Kopitar has three goals and three assists in the season series and has 10 points in his past seven games overall.
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