The Detroit Red Wings have already clinched their 17th consecutive playoff berth. The Columbus Blue Jackets are still hoping for their first.
The Blue Jackets look to boost their slim postseason hopes as they try for a third straight victory over the Red Wings on Sunday at Nationwide Arena.
Detroit (47-19-6) had its five-game winning streak snapped with a 3-1 home loss to Nashville on Saturday, days after becoming the first team to clinch a playoff berth and division title. The Red Wings also tied an NHL record by reaching 100 points for the eighth straight season.
Detroit is eight points ahead of second-place San Jose in the Western Conference with 10 games to play, and is closing in on securing the top spot in the West.
Columbus (31-29-11), meanwhile, took another step back in trying to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history following a 6-3 home loss to Chicago on Friday. The Blue Jackets are nine points out of the eighth and final playoff spot with 11 games remaining.
The Blue Jackets have lost four of their last five contests, including eight of nine at Nationwide Arena where they were one of the NHL's top home teams through the first four months of the season.
|The Columbus Blue Jackets hope to stay on their feet in regards to their slim playoff hopes and seek a third consecutive victory over the Detroit Red Wings when the teams play at Nationwide Arena on Sunday. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
On Sunday, though, Columbus will try for its second straight home victory over Detroit, a team it will face three more times after this contest. The Blue Jackets are 2-1-1 versus the Red Wings in 2007-08.
Columbus has outscored Detroit 8-3 in winning the last two meetings overall, but it was its defense Friday that cost them a victory over Chicago. Pascal Leclaire was pulled after allowing three goals on the first six shots he faced as the Blue Jackets trailed 3-0 after one period.
"The game was lost in the defensive end," said Columbus' Rick Nash, who scored his team-leading 36th goal. "It's clear we were giving up too much and weren't battling hard enough."
The Blue Jackets rallied, but were unable to prevail after allowing four or more goals for sixth time in their last nine at home.
"We showed a lot of character that we came back but it still wasn't good enough," said Nash, who has three goals and five assists versus Detroit this season. "We have to be playing a lot more desperate at this point in the season."
Leclaire is likely to be back in net Sunday trying for his third straight win over the Red Wings. He made 20 saves in Columbus' 5-1 victory at Detroit on Feb. 15 in the teams' most recent meeting.
Dominik Hasek is expected to start in goal for the Red Wings on Sunday after being unavailable the last three games with a sore back. The six-time Vezina Trophy winner has posted a 2.00 goals-against average in winning his last three starts overall, and is 7-2-0 with a 1.72 GAA versus Columbus.
Niklas Kronwall scored Saturday for Detroit, which was stymied after averaging four goals per contest during its five-game winning streak.
Johan Franzen had his five-game goal-scoring streak snapped, but added an assist giving him six goals and three assists in his last six contests. Franzen, though, has not recorded a point in five games versus Columbus in 2007-08.