Detroit Red Wings (40-24-13) at Minnesota Wild (44-26-7), 7 p.m. (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) – In early March, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Detroit would be making a 24th straight trip to the playoffs. A month later, the club’s postseason standing is not so clear.
The Red Wings hope to halt a three-game slide with a much needed victory when they visit the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
Detroit owns the longest current playoff streak in the NHL at 23 seasons and hasn’t missed the postseason since the spring of 1990. However, a 4-9-2 mark over the last 15 games has put the impressive streak in jeopardy and Thursday’s 3-2 regulation loss to the Boston Bruins certainly didn’t help.
The Red Wings have 93 points, the same amount as Boston, which is holding onto the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings are technically in possession of the third playoff berth from the Atlantic Division thanks to having played one fewer game than the Bruins, who host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Detroit also has to keep an eye on the Ottawa Senators, who are fifth in the Atlantic with 90 points and still chasing a playoff spot. Like the Wings, Ottawa has five games left in the regular season. The Sens also play Saturday when they host Washington.
The Red Wings held a 2-0 lead over the Bruins after Stephen Weiss’ power-play goal at 2:52 of the third period, but things would soon fall apart for Detroit.
Carl Soderberg and Louis Eriksson both scored for Boston in a span of 2:14 before the midway point of the third to tie the game and Zach Trotman would deliver the game-winner for the Bruins with 2:08 remaining in regulation. The decisive tally was the first NHL goal for Trotman.
Petr Mrazek gave up three goals on 25 shots in the loss. It was his fourth straight start, but Jimmy Howard will get the call in net tonight.
“I would’ve liked to had that last one back,” said Mrazek. “We have zero points. That’s the way we didn’t want it today and that’s how it is.”
Weiss finished with a goal and assist and Luke Glendening scored the other goal for Detroit, which was playing without forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Erik Cole and Tomas Jurco.
Datsyuk, who has missed two straight and seven of the last nine games with an ankle issue, is expected to play tonight. He is second on Detroit with 60 points (24 goals, 36 assists) in just 59 games.
Cole and Jurco are both expected to miss Saturday due to upper-body injuries.
The Wild are hoping to get back in the win column tonight after having a five- game streak snapped with Thursday’s 3-2 regulation loss against the visiting New York Rangers.
Minnesota still is holding onto the first wild card spot in the West and is five points ahead of Los Angeles and Winnipeg with five games remaining for all three teams. The Kings host Colorado on Saturday and Winnipeg is home against Vancouver.
The Rangers grabbed an early 2-0 lead on Thursday before Minnesota tied it up by the early part of the third period. However, J.T. Miller delivered the game-winner just 55 seconds after Thomas Vanek evened the score at 2-2 at 5:53 of the third.
Miller redirected a puck sent towards the net by Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh after the Wild were unable to clear the puck from their own zone.
“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t keep it tied a little longer,” Vanek said.
Jason Pominville also scored for Minnesota and Matt Dumba notched two assists.
Devan Dubnyk, making his 35th straight start for Minnesota, finished with 23 saves. He is 2-1-2 with a 2.97 goals against average in six career games against the Red Wings.
The Wild had a three-game home win streak snapped and fell to 22-12-5 at Xcel Energy Center. They will close a five-game homestand Monday against Winnipeg.
Detroit, which has lost three straight in regulation on the road, has won four of its last six in Minnesota. The Red Wings are 2-0-1 in the last three meetings overall.