Tonight, the Wings play Anaheim in their second straight night in California, part of a three-game West Coast trip to welcome them back from the Olympic Break. The Wings face Phoenix Saturday night before bringing it back home for three home games next week. This is their third of four games against the Mighty Duck, with the season series tied 1-1. In the last meeting on November 25, the Mighty Ducks won on home ice as Selanne scored the game-winner midway through the third.
The Wings were on a six-game pre-Olympic win streak before losing 5-1 to the Sharks last night. They were on their heels early, as the Sharks jumped out of the gates quickly with energy and an early lead. The story behind behind the game was the absence of the Swedish Olympians (Lidstrom, Kronwall, Samuelsson, Holmstrom, Zetterberg), and it became an issue for the Wings after they allowed numerous quality chances in on Legace. Even though Legace was able to hold off the surge in offense for much of the first and second periods, the Wings' lack of offense in Zetterberg and Lidstrom's minutes on defense definitely showed. Legace was strong in much of the game, including notching his first penalty shot save in the third, but eventually the Sharks' quality chances translated to goals (3 goals in the third). The Wings were outshot 32-29 on the night.
Tonight, the Wings will be getting back the gold medal crew of Holmstrom, Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Kronwall, and Samuelsson. However, these players will likely be as jet-lagged as the Wings were last night in their first outing in the states, so don't expect the Wings to have much of a better start than they did last night. I expect Chris Osgood to get tonight's start, after Legace's tough going last night (27 saves on 32 shots, including a penalty shot, without much defensive support).
The Mighty Ducks are third in the Pacific Division with 65 points, and are looking for a miracle to pass the Stars, who lead the division with 79 points. Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere is expected to make the start. The Wings are 19-6-3 on the road, while the Mighty Ducks are 17-8-4 at home.