Hitting the road with a pair of key contributors possibly back in the mix could help the Detroit Red Wings break out of their current funk.
The Central Division-leading Red Wings look to avoid matching a season high with their third straight loss Saturday night when they face a Buffalo Sabres team trying to move into playoff position.
Detroit (37-18-6) has dropped two straight after winning five in a row. The Red Wings, who lost three in a row Dec. 4-8, have dropped both at home, where they are 7-9-2 since Dec. 6.
Detroit, however, is 20-8-2 on the road and looks for a fifth consecutive victory away from home as it opens a five-game trip in Buffalo before heading out west.
“Maybe we’re fortunate, going on the road,” said coach Mike Babcock, whose club has totaled 18 goals during its road win streak. “Maybe we can get our act together.”
In his first season in Detroit, the 40-year-old Modano has not played since Nov. 26, because of a wrist injury. He has two goals and six assists in 20 games.
Filppula, who has 12 goals and 19 assists, has missed eight games with a knee injury. He has two goals and an assist in three career games at Buffalo.
“I feel pretty good about it right now,” Filppula told the Red Wings’ official website. “(It’s an) important road trip for us, (we) definitely need some wins out of there.
“(I’ll will try) to play the same way I’ve been playing, well defensively and hopefully every once in a while get some offense.”
While the potential return of that pair should provide a boost for the Red Wings, they would like goal leader Johan Franzen(notes) to get back on track. The Swede has 26 goals, but none his last 11 games.
“(Franzen) can always shoot the puck,” Babcock said. “The challenge for (Franzen) is that we want him on the inside, we want him to be big and physical, and be at the net.”
Franzen has been held without a point his last three games versus Buffalo.
The Red Wings, though, have fared well against Sabres, winning 11 of 14. That includes a 3-2 overtime victory at home in the teams’ latest matchup March 13.
The Sabres, however, snapped a three-game home skid to Detroit with a 6-2 win in the teams’ most recent meeting in Buffalo on Oct. 13, 2009.
Buffalo (29-25-6) is out to salvage a split of its six-game homestand after beating Ottawa 4-2 on Friday for its second straight win.
Ninth in the East and three points behind Carolina for the eighth and final playoff spot, the Sabres have totaled eight goals in two games after being held to two the previous three contests.
Vanek had two goals in Detroit’s last trip to Buffalo.