A recent scoring slump is not helping the Detroit Red Wings' chances of claiming the top spot in the Western Conference.
The Red Wings will again look for some offense while trying to avoid a fourth straight loss Saturday when they close out their season series with the St. Louis Blues.
Detroit (45-19-10) lost 2-1 in a shootout to Columbus on Thursday and has been outscored 8-3 during the three-game skid. Pavel Datsyuk, who leads the Red Wings with 79 points, has accounted for the only goal in each of those defeats.
The current slide has not allowed Detroit to move past Nashville for first place in the Central Division and overall in the conference. With 100 points, the Red Wings are one point behind the Predators, and the teams will meet for the final time this season Thursday in Nashville.
Suffering through a scoring drought like this is nothing new to Detroit, which has scored just three goals in three straight losses three times this season.
Datsyuk gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead in the third period Thursday to extend his point streak to 12 games, in which he's registered five goals and 13 assists. He has seven points in seven games against St. Louis (30-31-12) this season, but only one in the last three meetings.
Even with forward Dan Cleary back in the lineup after missing 11 games with a knee injury and veteran Todd Bertuzzi making his Detroit debut, the Red Wings still struggled to score against the lowly Blue Jackets.
"We weren't very good," Red Wings' coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't have that crispness. And we didn't skate well."
Bertuzzi, who was acquired from Florida at the trade deadline, had been out since Oct. 18 with a back injury. He played on the Red Wings' top line with Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom, and needed stitches after he was hit in the chin with the puck.
"I got a little more involved every shift and felt a little more confident," Bertuzzi said.
Cleary, who has a career-high 20 goals, has three against St. Louis this season.
The Red Wings are 4-1-2 against the division rival Blues this season, averaging almost three goals per game.
St. Louis lost 5-1 at Minnesota on Thursday for its fifth defeat in six games. Doug Weight scored for the first time in five contests to give the Blues a 1-0 lead after one period, but the Wild scored five unanswered goals to send St. Louis to its fourth road loss in five games.
"You never get secure against this team," Blues goalie Curtis Sanford said. "They're just too explosive. You try what you can to limit their opportunities, but they're going to get opportunities."
Weight, who leads the Blues with 52 points, left the game in the third period after he was hit in the mouth with a puck and needed stitches.