(Sports Network) - The Detroit Red Wings hope to avoid their first home regulation loss in over five weeks this evening at Joe Louis Arena against the team that eliminated them from last year's postseason, the San Jose Sharks.
Detroit has gone 7-0-1 since its lone regulation loss in Motown this year on Oct. 28. The Red Wings begin a three-game homestand tonight and are 10-1-2 as the hosting club this season.
Seeking a season-best fifth straight win on Saturday, Detroit closed out a three-game trip through California with a 3-2 overtime setback in Los Angeles. Jonathan Ericsson and Todd Bertuzzi scored the goals for the Red Wings before Anze Kopitar of the Kings beat Chris Osgood with just 56 seconds left in overtime.
"We got to play smart. We didn't have our legs moving and we just didn't do our best today," said Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg.
Osgood, playing for the first time since Oct. 30 due to a groin pull, finished with 22 saves. Detroit also had forward Kris Draper in the lineup for the first time this season after a groin injury and sports hernia surgery caused him to miss the first 23 games.
The Red Wings opened up their four-game regular season series with the Sharks in San Jose on Nov. 30, posting a 5-3 win. Though Detroit has won five of six and six of its last eight versus San Jose, it was eliminated in five games by the Sharks in last season's Western Conference semifinals.
The Sharks, who have just three wins in their last 16 regular-season trips to Motown, dropped a 3-1 test in Montreal on Saturday and have now split the first two contests of a five-game swing.
Benn Ferriero scored his third goal in four games for San Jose, which couldn't sustain the momentum from Thursday's 4-0 victory in Ottawa and has lost six of its last nine games (3-4-2). Antti Niemi, who started Thursday's shutout, allowed three goals on only 19 shots for the loss.
"We made a lot of mistakes just to allow three," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "You have to give them credit, because they earned those three goals. We weren't overwhelmed by their offense, but there was enough of it for them to get the win."
McLellan could opt to stick with Niemi tonight given that he is 2-1-1 with a 1.94 goals-against average in his career versus Detroit. His other option, Antero Niittymaki, has lost both of his career starts against the club, allowing 11 goals on 70 shots.
Detroit head coach Mike Babcock will likely go back to Jimmy Howard tonight and the 15-game winner so far this season is 3-0-1 with a 1.96 GAA in four regular-season meetings with San Jose.
He was in net for all five playoff games last year versus San Jose, posting a 2.97 GAA.