The Detroit Red Wings may have a chance to move into a tie atop the Western Conference standings if they can beat the team at the bottom.
That hasn't proved easy this season for the Red Wings, who are looking for their first win in three tries against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit (37-12-7) enters with 81 points - two behind San Jose, which visits New Jersey earlier in the day. The Red Wings could have tied for the conference lead Friday thanks to the Sharks' 6-5 shootout defeat to Buffalo, but they fell 3-2 at Columbus that same night, ending a six-game win streak.
Mikael Samuelsson scored for the second straight game for Detroit, which outshot its opponent for a sixth straight game (34-25), including 12-6 in the third period.
"We played real well defensively, I thought," Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "As the game went on we got more chances especially in the third period, but they scored the last goal and in the end that was enough. I thought the team really battled hard, though."
His team already has had two tight battles with the Avalanche (25-30-1) this season, losing 3-2 at home on Dec. 15 and 4-3 in shootout at Colorado on Dec. 27. Detroit swept last season's four-game series.
Even though they are in last place in the West with 51 points, the Avalanche join Dallas as the only visiting teams to win in Detroit's last 18 games at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings have totaled 21 goals in winning their last four home games and are among the league leaders with 3.64 goals per game. Their power-play unit is one of the best with a 26.6 percent success rate, but they're 0-for-9 in the past two games.
Their longest stretch without a power-play goal this season was three games, going 0-for-11 from Dec. 15-20, a drought that started with an 0-for-5 performance versus the Avalanche. However, Detroit went 2-for-5 in the Dec. 27 loss.
Colorado is struggling offensively, totaling five goals in losing four straight - one shy of a season high.
Tyler Arnason's power-play goal with seven minutes to play tied the Avalanche's game against visiting Montreal on Friday night, but they allowed two goals in the final 2:16 to lose 4-2.
"What can you say? It's extremely disappointing," defenseman John-Michael Liles said. "If we put forth that effort each and every night, we'll put ourselves in a lot better position to win a lot of hockey games."
The team's five-game losing streak away from home is its longest since March 2004, and a loss Sunday will result in its longest such skid since moving to Denver in 1995. The franchise lost its final four road games as the Quebec Nordiques before dropping their first three as the Avalanche.