Keeping the opposition off the scoreboard has been the Detroit Red Wings' biggest issue during their surprisingly mediocre start. The Edmonton Oilers, meanwhile, are suddenly wondering why they can't put the puck in the net.
The previously high-scoring Oilers have been shut out in their past two games, and they'll look to avoid a fourth straight loss Thursday night when they host the Red Wings.
Edmonton jumped out to a 6-2-1 start by scoring nearly four goals a game, but that highly productive offensive attack has disappeared.
The Oilers had their three-game winning streak snapped Friday in Calgary with a 5-2 loss, then were blanked against two other Northwest Division rivals, losing 2-0 at Vancouver on Saturday and 3-0 at home to Colorado on Tuesday.
Edmonton (6-5-1) hasn't scored in more than seven periods, totaling 141 minutes and 25 seconds since Dustin Penner's eighth goal of the season in the second against Calgary. The Oilers have never been shut out three games in a row.
"We've got to play better if we intend to be a top team," forward Sam Gagner said. "(Against the Avalanche) we didn't even show up for the first period. We should be embarrassed to get shut out two games in a row."
The Oilers haven't lost four straight since a five-game skid Oct. 22-30, 2008.
Detroit (4-4-2) has had trouble at the back end, allowing 3.40 goals per game to rank among the bottom third of the league.
It had lost three in a row, dropping the first two of a five-game road trip, before facing Vancouver on Tuesday. The Red Wings pulled goaltender Chris Osgood early, and they trailed 2-1 heading into the final 20 minutes before scoring four times in the third -- Pavel Datsyuk's first two goals of the season among them -- to win 5-4.
The Red Wings are averaging 45.5 shots over their last two games after not surpassing 37 in their first eight.
"If you're not shooting the puck, good things are not going to happen," said winger Jason Williams, who had a goal and an assist Tuesday. "That was our focus the last few games: just get pucks to the net and shoot as much as possible. It showed again tonight, we got a lot of pucks on net and we were rewarded with goals."
Defensively, though, there's more concern. Osgood has been pulled twice and is 3-2-2 with a 3.40 goals-against average. Jimmy Howard, who replaced Osgood in Vancouver, is 1-1-0 with a 2.15 GAA in his past three games -- one start.
"Sometimes when you come in off the bench you really don't have time to think about it much," Howard said. "When you get thrown in there, you just go out there and don't try to overdo anything."
Though Osgood is 4-0-3 with a tie and a 2.42 GAA in his last seven games against Edmonton, Howard -- who's never faced the Oilers -- will start Thursday.
Nikolai Khabibulin, who was 1-3-1 with a 3.12 GAA in seven combined regular-season and playoff games against Detroit while with Chicago last season, will likely start for Edmonton.
The Red Wings averaged 38.8 shots in winning all four games against the Oilers last season, outscoring them 19-8 to move to 7-0-4 in the last 11 meetings. The last five matchups in Edmonton have been decided by one goal, with Detroit going 3-0-2.