Wings' Kronwall, Datsyuk might return for Sharks

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — They haven't been fortunate lately, but their luck just might be changing.

The Red Wings will be without forward Erik Cole (upper body) for tonight's game against the Sharks — and maybe back-to-back weekend games — but center Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) and Niklas Kronwall (lower body) could be back in the lineup.

Datsyuk has missed the last four games and Kronwall was a late scratch before Tuesday's 5-4 overtime loss to the Coyotes.

Cole was injured during the first period. And while any injury is an issue at this time — the Red Wings are on a 3-6-1 run — they can ill afford to be without all three key veterans.

Still, coach Mike Babcock has a different view.

"Everyone else has an opportunity to play (more minutes)," he said. "I don't buy any of that stuff. The puck was dropped and I felt we had a good enough lineup to win.

"We gave up too many goals, any way you look at it."

Cole appeared to fall awkwardly near the Coyotes net and seemed to favor his left arm or elbow as he skated off.

He will be evaluated Friday.

With games Saturday (Lightning) and Sunday (Islanders), the Red Wings will be cautious.

As for Kronwall and Datsyuk?

"Kronner and Pav will decide after the morning skate," general manager Ken Holland said.

Capable fill-in

Jakub Kindl replaced Kronwall and was arguably one of the best players, with a goal and assist in 16 minutes, 18 seconds.

He also was credited with one hit and one block.

"He hasn't played since (Marek) Zidlicky arrived (Feb. 28), and he came in and had an impact," Babcock said.

Kindl heard earlier in the day Kronwall wasn't feeling well and could miss the game.

Kindl's best play was a stretch pass to Justin Abdelkader, leading to a breakaway goal.

Ice chips

The Red Wings, with three games in four days, were off Wednesday.

... Babcock said he'll name a starter in net this morning.

... The Red Wings haven't won consecutive games in three weeks.

Sharks at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 Thursday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Red Wings are 1-0 against the Sharks. ... The Sharks are on a 5-5 run, but have lost their last two. ... C Joe Pavelski (66 points, 35 goals) leads the Sharks.