DETROIT -- Remember the good old days when the Red Wings would beat the San Jose Sharks almost every time, Game 7 of the 1994 playoffs notwithstanding?
Those days are long gone.
The Sharks have ousted the Wings from the playoffs the last two seasons and have generally been very good against them.
In fact, since former Wings assistant coach Todd McLellan took over as the Sharks head coach, the Sharks are 15-10 against the Wings, including the playoffs.
That disturbing trend continued Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, as the Sharks won, 4-2, extending the Wings' losing streak to three games and extending the Sharks' winning streak to four straight on the road.
It was just the seventh regular-season victory for the Sharks in Detroit in 38 games.
"I guess I can answer that two ways, because for three of those years I was over there and we were fortunate enough to beat the Sharks, but now its working in our favor," McLellan said. "Weve been that glassy-eyed team in here. Weve stood around and watched em outshoot us 12-1 in the first four or five minutes and lost 7-1 here. They can do that. Theyre that talented."
Goaltender Jimmy Howard, who returned to the net after missing the last two games after the birth of his first child, made 26 saves. He was particularly good in the first period when the Sharks were outshooting the Wings, 7-2.
"On that first penalty kill, they had some good chances," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We had a chance to get the puck out twice on the penalty kill and we didn't. Usually you're digging those out of the back of your net so he was sharp."
The Wings had the lead early after Henrik Zetterberg got his first goal in six games on a fortuitous bounce when Nick Lidstrom's shot bounced off the boards right to him and he buried it into the right side of the net.
The Wings also got a power-play goal from Tomas Holmstrom in the second period when he deflected Pavel Datsyuk's shot from his usual spot in front of goaltender Antti Niemi.
Holmstrom could have had another goal near the end of the first but it was ruled that there was incidental contact with Niemi so it was waved off, even though Holmstrom did not get a penalty.
"I didn't like the call but it doesn't matter if I like it or not," Babcock said. "You and I both know, we've been in this league a long time, there's never any mistakes made in those situations."
Niemi made no other mistakes, as he finished with 30 saves to improve to 4-1.
Niemi wasn't part of the Sharks' earlier struggles against the Wings. In the regular season, he is 6-1-1 against them.
"Weve played good games against them and weve been able to win those," Niemi said. "I think we both play very good hockey and its a tough challenge every time, but weve been able to win them for us."
Patrick Marleau was part of those old days when the Sharks couldn't quite beat the Wings. On Friday, he had a goal and an assist to help defeat them.
"The culture that they have here in Detroit, they always have great teams year in and year out," Marleau said. "Just because they are an elite team and they are competitive, so coming in and getting a win does feel nice but that said, always a hard-fought game."
The Wings fought a lot harder than they did in their embarrassing 4-1 loss in Columbus Tuesday night. But the result was the same.
In their three straight losses, the Wings have allowed 15 goals and scored just four. Despite Zetterberg's goal, the top line with him, Datsyuk and Danny Cleary only has four goals.
The second line with Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler have eight goals but had no points Friday.
"I thought Mule's line with Fil and Huds could have been better for us," Babcock said. "But it was one of those games, there wasn't a lot of room. We needed to get a win here tonight. Any way you look at it, we've suddenly lost three in a row and those things start to pile up on you. So it's very important that we get on a flight and we respond tomorrow."
The Wings have the quick turnaround as they play Saturday night in Minnesota, a team that is 3-3-3, 2-2-1 at home.
"It's a very tight league," Lidstrom said. "All the teams are so even. You have to play hard every night and you have to play well defensively every night to get some wins."