Skip to Main Content

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Detroit Red Wings @NHLdotcom
Blue Jackets-Red Wings Preview

GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (24-45-8-4) at Detroit Red Wings (48-20-11-2).

TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Detroit Red Wings have already locked up the top spot in the Western Conference and the best record in the NHL. More importantly, they've picked up some serious momentum heading into the postseason.

The Red Wings shoot for their sixth straight victory as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Detroit beat St. Louis 3-2 on Thursday, despite getting off just 12 shots - seven fewer than its previous season low. The victory guaranteed the Red Wings the Presidents' Trophy, awarded to the team with the best record in the league.

Detroit has 109 points, three more than Tampa Bay, which also has one game remaining

"It's a tribute to all of the guys for all of the nights nobody cares about," coach Dave Lewis said. "They find ways to play through injuries, through sickness, play through different rules, and find a way to win. That's been our mark all season long."

Boyd Devereaux, Steve Thomas and Ray Whitney scored for the Red Wings, who are 37-2-4-1 when leading after two periods. Chris Chelios had two assists, giving him five in his last four games.

"The one thing about the Presidents' Trophy is it's a tribute to the grind of the season," Lewis added. "Once the playoffs start, it means nothing."

Marc Lamothe, Detroit's fourth goalie behind Dominik Hasek, Curtis Joseph and Manny Legace, made 26 saves for his second career win and first since 1999. Hasek is on injured reserve with a groin injury, and Lewis announced Tuesday that Joseph would most likely sit out his seventh straight game with an injured right ankle.

The Blue Jackets lost 4-2 to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday - their third straight defeat since a four-game winning streak. Nikolai Zherdev and Jaroslav Spacek each had a goal and an assist for Columbus, which has just two more points than the conference-worst Chicago Blackhawks.

Rick Nash, tied with Calgary's Jarome Iginla and Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk for the league lead with 40 goals, failed to score for the third straight game.

Detroit beat Columbus 3-2 on Wednesday. Blue Jackets defenseman Rostislav Klesla was knocked out for the rest of the season when he was checked into the open door jamb in front of the Reds Wings bench by Kirk Maltby - a hit that Columbus general manager Doug MacLean called "gutless."

"You can't say he (Maltby) didn't see the door open because it was open for four seconds - we watched it on video," Columbus interim coach Gerard Gallant said. "He just drove him into the door."

STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 60 points, 4th place, 49 PB, Central Division. Red Wings - 109 points, 1st place, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Nash, 40 goals and 55 points; David Vyborny, 31 assists; Jody Shelley, 228 PIM. Red Wings - Robert Lang and Pavel Datsyuk, 30 goals; Lang, 49 assists and 79 points; Brendan Shanahan, 117 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 1): Blue Jackets - Power play: 14.2 percent (56 for 394), 24th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (280 for 329), 8th. Red Wings - Power play: 20.3 percent (63 for 310), 4th. Penalty killing: 87 percent (274 for 315), 1st.

GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (20-36-7, 5 SO, 2.59 GAA); Fred Brathwaite (4-11-1, 0, 3.37). Red Wings - Legace (23-9-5, 3, 2.07); Joseph (16-10-3, 2, 2.39); Lamothe (1-0-1, 0, 1.44).

SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 4-1.

LAST MEETING: Wednesday; Red Wings, 3-2. At Columbus, Tomas Holmstrom and Lang each scored in the third period, helping Detroit bounce back from a 2-1 deficit.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 7-27-4-2 on the road; Red Wings - 30-6-4-0 at home.

Associated Press
View More