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Red Wings Return From Extended Time Off, Face Coyotes In Detroit

(Sports Network) - The Detroit Red Wings have been playing great hockey to start the 2010-11 season and will aim for a fourth straight victory tonight when they welcome the struggling Phoenix Coyotes for a battle at Joe Louis Arena.

Tonight's game marks the first in Detroit between the Red Wings and Coyotes since Game 6 of last year's Western Conference quarterfinal's series, which Phoenix won by a 5-2 score. However, Detroit was able to win Game 7 on the road, ending Phoenix's 2010 playoff run with a 6-1 rout.

The Red Wings visited the Coyotes in Phoenix on Oct. 16 and recorded a 2-1 overtime win on Niklas Kronwall's goal with 18 seconds left in the extra session. Detroit has points in each of its last seven regular-season meetings with the Coyotes, going 5-0-2. Phoenix has just three wins in its last 13 regular-season trips to the Motor City.

Detroit has just one regulation loss in seven games (5-1-1) this season and picked up its third straight victory with a dramatic 5-4 win over visiting Anaheim on Saturday. Pavel Datsyuk scored the game-winner with 11.4 seconds remaining in regulation, as the Red Wings snuck past the Ducks, 5-4, at Joe Louis Arena.

With time winding down, Datsyuk controlled the puck at the left circle. He made a move past an Anaheim player before firing a wrister past Curtis McElhinney.

Henrik Zetterberg had two goals and two assists for the Red Wings, who also got goals from Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom. Jimmy Howard made 21 saves to improve to 4-0-1 on the year.

"We needed the points and we got them," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "I thought we played good in the first period, we stood around for the first 10 minutes of the second and let them get back into it. You can't do that in this league, but we got lucky there."

Detroit is playing the third test of a four-game homestand tonight and has yet to lose in regulation at the Joe this year, going 3-0-1.

The Coyotes have won just twice in eight contests (2-3-3) this year and have dropped three in a row since their last victory against Los Angeles on Oct. 21. Phoenix lost in overtime in its first two setbacks during this skid, but was unable to record a point in Tuesday's blowout loss in Ottawa. Alex Kovalev scored twice and added an assist to lead the Senators to the easy 5-2 win.

Sami Lepisto and Keith Yandle scored for the Coyotes and Jason LaBarbera was pulled from just his second start of the year. LaBarbera allowed three goals on 20 shots before getting yanked after one period in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov, who stopped 14-of-16 shots the rest of the way.

"Our consistency hasn't been what it needs to be. So it's certainly something that has to be addressed," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippet said.

Phoenix, which is completing a three-game road trip today, is 1-2-1 as the visiting team this year.