RED WINGS (9-8-3) at SHARKS (9-6-3)
TV: FS-Detroit; CSN-California
Last 10: Detroit 4-4-2; San Jose 2-6-2
Season series: The teams are meeting for the first of three times this season. Detroit comes back to HP Pavilion four weeks from today, while the Sharks visit Joe Louis Arena on April 11. San Jose won three of the four games last season.
Big story: The Red Wings and Sharks have been playoff perennials, but both teams will have to scramble to make the top eight in the West this season. The Red Wings come to the Bay area after a disappointing 2-1 loss at Los Angeles on Wednesday night, while the Sharks hope they've turned things around after beating Colorado 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday.
Red Wings: Detroit grabbed an early 1-0 lead in Los Angeles on a fluke goal by defenseman Kyle Quincey and nursed it well into the third period before finally paying the price for a parade to the penalty box. The Red Wings killed off a long 5-on-3 power-play for L.A. in the second period, but Jeff Carter scored on another two-man advantage to tie the game midway through the third period before Anze Kopitar scored the game-winner.
"This was a tough one," captain Henrik Zetterberg said after the Wings' two-game winning streak ended. "We played really well in the first period. We had really good penalty killing in the second. And then the third was pretty even. Unfortunately, they got two goals. It's not often you win if you only score one goal."
Sharks: Ryane Clowe, normally a top-six forward, will be back in the lineup against Detroit after sitting out a two-game suspension. But he was skating on the third line with Michal Handzus and Andrew Desjardins at Wednesday's practice -- and coach Todd McLellan said he may keep that setup against Detroit. Clowe has yet to score this season.
"I don't think Ryane Clowe should lose his Top Six role because of a suspension when he got involved to defend a teammate. But with that being said, we liked how the lines have been playing up front, creating more scoring opportunities," McLellan said, "so we have to do what's right for the team.
"When Clowe comes back, we've really stressed his foot speed and keeping his feet moving and using his overall size to drive the net rather than always playing around the boards. If he's going to play well, he's going to work on that part of his game. But he's a huge part of our organization."
Who's hot: Zetterberg has five points in Detroit's past five games and leads the Red Wings with 25 in 20 contests. Pavel Datsyuk has three multi-point games in that same span. … Sharks captain Joe Thornton has points in each of his past four games.
John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist
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