Red Wings try to snap skid vs. Avalanche

(SportsNetwork.com) – The Detroit Red Wings hope to snap their longest losing
streak of the season on Sunday night when they play host to the Colorado
Avalanche.

However, they’ll be missing their top goaltender in Jimmy Howard when they
attempt to do so.

Howard is not expected to play this evening after suffering a lower-body
injury in Friday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders. He stopped eight of the
nine shots he faced in the first period, but was replaced by Petr Mrazek at
the start of the second.

Though the Red Wings are hopeful Howard’s ailment isn’t serious, Thomas
McCollum was recalled from the American Hockey League to back up Mrazek, who
will start this game.

Mrazek has never faced the Avalanche and fell to 3-2-0 with a 2.55 goals
against average and .922 save percentage in five games (4 starts) this season
after getting credited with the loss on Friday.

The 22-year-old gave up a goal on 23 shots faced versus the Islanders, while
Henrik Zetterberg’s first-period tally was the only one Detroit could score.

That effort extended the Red Wings’ skid to five in a row, with three of those
coming in a shootout. They have just five goals over the losing streak, which
is the longest for the club since an 0-4-2 drought from Dec. 7-17 of last
year.

“We had good, good chances but we never hit the net. You’ve got to hit the net
on some of them,” said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. “I thought it was a
pretty high-level hockey game. I was impressed with their team, but I was
impressed with lots of things we did, too.”

The Red Wings, though, have won four of their past five versus the Avalanche
and four of the past six played at home in the series.

Colorado has points in four straight (2-0-2), snapping a two-game slide on
Saturday night with a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

The victory featured another solid outing from rookie Calvin Pickard in his
fifth straight start. Pickard has gotten the call over backup Reto Berra with
Semyon Varlamov out with a groin injury.

Pickard, who is expected to start again tonight and face the Red Wings for the
first time, made 28 saves and improved to 4-5-2 this season with a 2.28 GAA
and .934 save percentage in 11 games with eight starts.

“With every opportunity I’m given, I just want to give the team a chance to
win,” said Pickard, who had his bid for a shutout ended with 6:33 to play.

Erik Johnson and Cody McLeod scored in the first period for the Avalanche.
Alex Tanguay then scored twice in the third frame and also set up John
Mitchell’s power-play goal in the period.

Mitchell played for the first time in eight games due to a leg injury.