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Detroit — You knew it was going to hit at some point, and it has for the Red Wings.

Adversity was going to rear its ugly head, and it's doing so currently, the Red Wings mired in a five-game winless streak with the Colorado Avalanche visiting Sunday (6 p.m./FSD).

For the Red Wings, it's a matter of how do they overcome this disappointing stretch and come out a better team.

"It happens every year," coach Mike Babcock said. "Whether you like it or not, that's the way it is. I don't know if it's part of success, or being a little complacent and feeling good about yourself and you come off (the gas pedal) a little bit. The league is all the same, everyone is all the same.

"I don't know if it's 'we don't get the breaks,' but I don't buy any of that stuff. Just do it right, and longer and harder."

This winless streak has been a good lesson as to the fine line between winning and losing in the parity-driven NHL.

"When I look at this team, when we've won we've barely won, and when we've lost, we've barely lost," Babcock said. "We have to find a way to come out on the high side of things. There are no moral victories in the NHL. We have to find a way to win. Period."

Something that would help, in that regard, would be to score more goals.

In this five-game winless streak, the Red Wings have scored a grand total of five goals, a goal per game average, that will not win many games.

It didn't Friday, the New York Islanders defeating the Red Wings 2-1.

"We need more shots and more scoring," Pavel Datsyuk said. "The last few games, we don't score much. It's hard when you score only one like last night."

In Datsyuk's mind, the Red Wings simply haven't played well enough to win lately.

"If we (had) won every game, we'd be good enough, but we're not winning so it's not good enough," Datsyuk said. "Everyone can play more harder, especially starting with me."

Line shuffling

In an attempt to ignite some offense, Babcock reunited Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg with Justin Abdelkader on the other wing.

Babcock has often paired Datsyuk and Zetterberg on a line before in an attempt to shake the team out of its doldrums.

"It's about winning," said Babcock of the decision to reunite Datsyuk and Zetterberg. "Whatever can help us win. It doesn't matter to me."

Babcock also had Riley Sheahan centering Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco, while Darren Helm was between Gustav Nyquist and Johan Franzen.

Daniel Cleary replaced Joakim Andersson on the fourth line, with Luke Glendening and Drew Miller.

There was hope Stephen Weiss (shoulder) would return to the lineup, but Weiss is still isn't cleared and will miss his fourth consecutive game.

Howard update

Goalie Jimmy Howard (lower body) was scheduled for further tests Saturday, said general manager Ken Holland, with the Red Wings hopeful Howard could play Tuesday against Buffalo.

Howard left after one period Friday as a precautionary move.

Petr Mrazek replaced Howard and stopped 23 of 24 shots, and will get the start against the Avalanche.

"Every team is hoping their back up wins them games," Babcock said. "Pete has done a good job for us. Pete did what he could (Friday)."

The Red Wings assigned defenseman Xavier Ouellet to Grand Rapids and brought up goalie Tom McCollum to serve as Mrazek's back up.

With the Griffins, McCollum was 5-8-3 with a 2.57 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.

The rivalry

The hatred associated with the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry has long passed, but there are memories of all the fights, emotion and pure talent that both teams possessed.

Growing up in Slovakia, Tomas Tatar knew all about the intensity of the rivalry.

"I was watching when I was a kid," Tatar said. "I knew about the Original Six, and I thought Colorado was something like that, too. But then people here told me about the rivalry and it was kind of made by the fans and by how good those teams were.

"There were a lot of fights, goalie fights, it was fun to watch.

"It's still something, obviously not as big as it used to be, but it's always fun to play Colorado."

In Tatar's area, he and his hockey playing friends were split when it came to the Red Wings and Avalanche.

"Back home all the kids growing up had either Colorado or Detroit as their favorite teams. All my friends were (either Avalanche or Red Wings fans)."

And who did Tatar back?

"I was Detroit," Tatar said.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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Avalanche at Red Wings

Faceoff: 6 p.m. Sunday, Joe Louis Arena

TV/radio: FSD/1270 AM

Outlook: This will be the first of two meetings between the former bitter rivals this season…This game ends a quick three-game in four-nights road trip for the Avalanche…C Matt Duchene (10 goals, 20 points) and D Tyson Barrie (17 assists, 20 points) lead the Avalanche offensively.

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