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Pens, Wings looking to hold ground in showdown

by Dan Rosen
With 21 days left in the regular season, the playoff races in each conference simply are on fire. Almost every game has added significance, with points at such a premium, as teams jockey for positioning. is here to give you a Down the Stretch daily that will highlight what you need to know about the games that directly can impact the playoff races.

Here is the installment for Monday, March 21:

PITTSBURGH (41-23-8, 90 points) at DETROIT (43-21-8, 94 points)

Where they stand: Pittsburgh is fourth in the East; Detroit is second in the West

What's at stake: Pittsburgh is trying to keep its distance from Tampa Bay and Montreal to retain a top-four seed and home-ice advantage in the first round. The Penguins hold a one-point lead against the Lightning and a three-point lead against the Canadiens. Both Montreal and Tampa Bay play Tuesday. Detroit is trying to hold off San Jose to keep the second seed in the Western Conference. The Red Wings have a two-point lead against the Sharks and an eight-point lead against Chicago for first in the Central Division.

How's it going: The Penguins are coming off Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Rangers. They had won two in a row and four out of their last five games, but the wheels came off in the third period as the Rangers scored four times in the final 10:32. However, there was some more encouraging news on the Sidney Crosby front as the superstar center skated again Sunday morning as he tries to return from a concussion. There is still no timetable for his return.

The Red Wings had their four-game winning streak snapped Saturday in Nashville. They will be without Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Johan Franzen (groin) and Jiri Hudler (fever) against the Penguins. Ruslan Salei is also expected to miss the game because he hasn't practiced in a week after taking a leave for the birth of his child.

Upcoming: The Penguins head east Thursday to Philadelphia for a key Atlantic Division clash before coming home to play the Devils on Friday, the Panthers on Sunday and the Flyers again the following Tuesday. The Red Wings are starting a five-game homestand that will take them to the end of the month. Vancouver, Toronto, Chicago and St. Louis still come to Joe Louis Arena.

CALGARY (37-27-10, 84 points) at LOS ANGELES (40-26-6, 86 points)

Where they stand: Calgary is 10th in the West; Los Angeles is sixth in the West

What's at stake: Four places may separate these teams in the standings, but with a regulation win Calgary will move into eighth -- and within a tiebreaker of fifth. The Flames, though, will only have seven games left after Monday while Dallas and Anaheim still have 10 and Los Angeles and Nashville will have nine. The Kings can leap past Chicago and get into fifth with a win or an overtime/shootout loss.

How's it going: The Flames have points in their past two games after losing three in a row in regulation, but Sunday's loss to Anaheim definitely hurt. Calgary rallied from an early 3-1 deficit and took a 4-3 lead midway through the third period. However, Teemu Selanne scored with 2:01 left to tie it and Corey Perry won it for Anaheim in overtime.

Anaheim also beat the Kings on a Perry OT goal Saturday night. The Kings have scored just once in their past two games, but they had won four in a row prior.

Upcoming: The Flames finish their three-game California trip Wednesday in San Jose before heading back to Alberta, but not home. They're in Edmonton on Saturday. The Kings will still have two games left on their five-game homestand after Monday. They host San Jose on Thursday and Colorado on Saturday.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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