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Devils hope to return to win column vs. Red Wings

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New Jersey Devils will try to get back in the win column Friday when they host the Detroit Red Wings in an Eastern Conference clash at Prudential Center.

New Jersey was recently swept by Montreal in a home-and-home series and the consecutive losses dropped the Devils to 2-4-1 over their last seven trips to the ice.

Detroit, meanwhile, will try to rebound from a loss tonight after having a four-game winning streak halted in Wednesday's home loss against Philadelphia.

Friday's matchup marks the first of three meetings between the Devils and Red Wings this season. Detroit has taken six of the past eight encounters in this series and also has won two of the last three battles in New Jersey.

The Devils are 7-2-0 with a tie versus the Red Wings in the last 10 games played in the Garden State.

After dropping a 3-2 regulation decision Monday in Montreal, the Devils coughed up a lead late in regulation on Wednesday, allowing the Canadiens to hang around for the 4-3 shootout victory.

David Desharnais tied the game with 36.6 seconds left in regulation and then notched the game-winner in the second round of the shootout for the Habs. After the first two shooters found the back of the net in the shootout, Peter Budaj stuffed Travis Zajac's backhander and Desharnais followed by charging down the right wing, cutting in front, and slipping the disc through the five- hole of New Jersey netminder Cory Schneider.

Patrik Elias had a chance to extend the game for New Jersey, but Budaj made a nice left pad save to secure the extra point for the Canadiens.

Michael Ryder and Andrei Loktionov each registered a goal and an assist in the loss, while Elias also scored in regulation for the Devils. Schneider stopped 27 shots in defeat, as New Jersey fell to 0-5 in shootouts this season.

"Tough loss for us," Schneider said. "They're a tough team to close. They're opportunistic."

The Devils are playing on back-to-back nights, as they are scheduled to visit the rival New York Rangers on Saturday. Schneider and Martin Brodeur expect to split the starts over the next two days, but it's unclear which goaltender will get the call on Friday.

Detroit also is playing on both Friday and Saturday and will go with Jonas Gustavsson in net tonight. That means Jimmy Howard, who took the loss Wednesday against Philadelphia, is penciled in as the starter for Saturday's home tilt versus Florida.

The Red Wings had matched a season high with four straight wins and held a 3-1 lead at one point in Wednesday's game against the Flyers, but Philadelphia scored five unanswered goals to rally for the 6-3 win at Joe Louis Arena.

Special teams play was a major factor in the game, as Philly scored on three of its chances with the power play and Detroit went 1-for-7 with the man advantage.

Tomas Tatar tallied twice and Johan Franzen also lit the lamp for the Red Wings. Howard allowed five goals on 33 shots in defeat.

"The third period wasn't good enough," Detroit head coach Mike Babcock admitted. "They were better than us. They were better than us because they lit us up on the power play."

The Red Wings played Wednesday without its two best players, as forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg both sat out the game. Zetterberg will miss at least the next two weeks with a herniated disc in his back, while Datsyuk has sat out the last five games with a concussion.

While Zetterberg has been ruled out for a second straight game, Datsyuk is nearing a return. The Russian star has resumed skating, but will miss a sixth straight game on Friday.

Zetterberg is leading Detroit in scoring this season with 30 points on 11 goals and 19 assists. Datsyuk, meanwhile, is first in goals (12) and second in points (23).

Detroit forward Todd Bertuzzi is expected to play tonight after sitting out the previous six tilts with a bruised shoulder. The veteran winger has five goals and four assists in 23 games this season.

Forward Darren Helm is expected to miss at least the next two games after suffering a shoulder injury against the Flyers.

Beginning tonight, the Red Wings are playing three of their next four games on the road, where they boast a solid 9-3-1 record this season.

New Jersey, meanwhile, is 5-4-3 at the Rock this season and has lost three of its past four games as the host.

12/06 10:53:40 ET

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