SAN JOSE Add Detroit to the list of Western Conference clubs that has struggled with a long road trip.
The Red Wings, who have seen their season end the last two years at the hands of the Sharks, will visit HP Pavilion on Saturday night looking to end a three-game losing streak, all in regulation and all away from the Motor City. Overall, the Winged Wheel has lost five of its last six (1-5-0), and has scored just seven goals in the five losses.
The Red Wings (44-24-3, 91 points) were shut out in Anaheim on Wednesday night, 4-0, and practiced in San Jose on Friday after a day off in the Bay Area yesterday. As reported earlier, Detroit will get a key piece back when Pavel Datsyuk returns to a club thats desperately seeking more offense.
NEWS: Wings' Datsyuk set to return vs. Sharks
It will be much-needed. Just another offensive weapon that we need, Todd Bertuzzi said.
The burly winger also talked about his teams rivalry with San Jose (35-25-10, 80 points). The Red Wings lost the first two games of the season series before claiming a 3-2 win at Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 19, when the Sharks were in the midst of a wretched trip themselves in which they finished with just two wins in nine games.
The games against them are always important and always big games, and all that. To be honest though, at the point we are right now, it doesnt matter who we face. We need these two points and weve got to get ourselves back to playing the way we know how, Bertuzzi said.
For the Sharks, theyre not focused on the Red Wings losing streak. Theyre just trying to secure back-to-back wins for the first time since Feb. 2, and hopefully get back into the top eight in the process.
We didnt play in them. It may motivate them more, they may be hungrier, I dont know. I just know that we need to get ourselves on a streak and they stand in the way of that, Todd McLellan said. Weve got to come out and be ready to play our best.
Dominic Moore said: Theyve been an elite team in the league for a long time. Its a good test for us to work on our game, and work on those details.
The Sharks are still in ninth place heading into Friday nights action, but the club has secured five of a six possible points in its last three games, and has at least one point in five of six overall. Things seem to be trending upward despite the fact San Jose has scored just 13 goals in the last nine games.
That 2-1-3 mark comes on the heels of a stretch in which San Jose went just 4-10-1 in a stunning decline for the team that has been in the Western Conference finals for the last two years.
I think were a little bit more together in terms of our support around the ice. Id say thats true in all zones, but for the most part on the breakouts and in the defensive zone, said Moore, who was acquired by the team in late February in the middle of its slide. Having five guys in the picture and supporting each other, thats a huge thing.
Antti Niemi, who will make his 10th straight start on Saturday, said: I think we give less and create more. Thats huge. We gave up one in the first yesterday and we cant open up our game, we still have to defend. Were shooting a lot, so were going to score.
Kronwall expects nothing less than a hard-fought battle between two teams in desperate need of a win.
I think we match up very well against each other. Its always high intensity, playoff-type games. It should be a good matchup, and both teams are looking to get back on track here, he said.
Like the Sharks, the Red Wings remain focused on their own game.
Im just worried about our team. Im not concerned about what theyre doing. Weve got our own issues, Bertuzzi said.