Plenty has changed since the St. Louis Blues dominated the Detroit Red Wings in the teams' season opener.
The Red Wings have taken two meetings since that poor effort and won a season-high three straight overall as they try to hand the visiting Blues a sixth consecutive defeat Wednesday night.
St. Louis (6-5-1) was spectacular in a 6-0 home victory over Detroit on Jan. 19, but the Blues have lost twice to the Red Wings (7-4-1) during their 0-4-1 slide. They'll be trying to avoid dropping six in a row for the first time since a 0-5-2 skid Dec. 26, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010.
"It's an easy time to beat everybody up," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're not playing with the sense of urgency collectively throughout our lineup necessary to win in the National Hockey League."
Detroit has won four straight home matchups with St. Louis, the most recent a 5-3 victory Feb. 1. Henrik Zetterberg matched a career high with five points in that contest, and he's among the league leaders with 13 assists and 18 points.
The Red Wings also won 5-1 at St. Louis last Thursday, as Petr Mrazek made 26 saves in his NHL debut with Jimmy Howard getting a night off.
That started this win streak for Detroit, which has taken the first two of a four-game homestand with one-goal victories over Edmonton on Saturday and Los Angeles on Sunday.
Pavel Datsyuk scored in both contests after going three games without a point.
"When I watch Pavel Datsyuk play, all I think about is how much will he has and how determined he is," coach Mike Babcock told the Red Wings' official website. "He just keeps coming. He doesn't care who it is or who he's playing. The best of the best are ultra-competitive and they bring it every single day."
While the Red Wings are playing well at home, the Blues completed an 0-3-1 homestand with a 4-1 defeat to the Kings on Monday.
Jaroslav Halak was scheduled to make his first start since leaving the Feb. 1 outing against Detroit with a groin strain. Halak, though, re-aggravated the injury and struggling Brian Elliott made 19 saves on 23 shots.
Now the Blues hope to regroup on a three-game trip.
"This is the homestand from hell," Hitchcock said. "We lost our goalie, we didn't play as well and now we've got to take this onto the road and we've got to be much more accountable to each other."
Elliott has gone 0-3-0 with a 3.03 goals-against average in three career starts at Detroit, while Halak is 1-3-0 with a 4.48 GAA in his five there.
Howard has posted a 1.86 GAA in winning seven straight home starts versus St. Louis.
The Blues have converted on a league-leading 34.8 percent of their power plays, including 7 for 13 against the Red WIngs. Their woes occur at even strength.
"All our scoring chances against good teams come on the power play," Hitchcock said. "They don't come 5-on-5. Well, you have to really dig in 5-on-5 against good hockey clubs to create scoring opportunities. And we don't get those."
The Associated Press News Service
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