Both the Detroit Red Wings and the Washington Capitals have relatively comfortable division leads, but neither is pleased with the way they've been playing lately.
The Red Wings try to avoid a five-game losing streak on Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center as they face a Washington team that's dropped five of eight.
Detroit (31-10-7), which holds a nine-point lead over Chicago in the Central Division, returns to the ice following a 4-2 loss to Dallas on Thursday that snapped its seven-game home winning streak. It also marked Detroit's first four-game skid since going 0-3-1 from Feb. 22-29.
Heading into the contest with the NHL's best home penalty kill, the Red Wings allowed three power-play goals for the first time this season at Joe Louis Arena. Dallas had two goals with the man-advantage in the first period en route to a 4-0 lead - the first time Detroit has been behind 4-0 in 2008-09.
After holding opponents to an average of 1.78 goals during an 8-0-1 stretch from Dec. 30-Jan. 15, the Red Wings are allowing 4.75 goals per game during their losing streak.
"We're slipping defensively," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "In our zone, we're not quick to pucks and we're not getting them out of our zone."
Despite having one of the league's top penalty kills at home, the story is completely opposite on the road, where the Red Wings are last in the NHL, killing just 73.6 percent.
Washington, meanwhile, is having its own struggle on the penalty kill, allowing five goals on 11 short-handed situations during its two-game skid. The Capitals fell 3-2 to Boston in overtime on Tuesday as the Bruins scored 1:55 into the extra period following a hooking penalty on Nicklas Backstrom.
Washington (30-15-4), which leads the Southeast Division by 10 points, is fifth in the NHL with 253 minor penalties.
Jose Theodore made 25 saves against Boston and went 1-1-1 with a 2.30 GAA during the Capitals' three-game trip. Theodore, however, is 1-9-0 with a 3.68 GAA in 10 career starts - including postseason - against the Red Wings. He earned his lone victory against Detroit on Jan. 11, 2000 with Montreal.
Detroit's Chris Osgood had another rough outing on Thursday as he stopped nine of 12 shots in the first period before he was replaced by Ty Conklin. Osgood is 0-2-1 with a 5.08 GAA in his last three starts and his 3.29 GAA this season would be by far the worst of his career.
After signing a 12-year, $73 million deal earlier in the week, Henrik Zetterberg wasn't there on Thursday to provide a spark as he sat out with a back injury. The Red Wings' third-leading scorer with 43 points hopes to play on Saturday.
Washington's Alex Ovechkin will likely play after a violent crash into the boards against Boston. Ovechkin did not practice on Wednesday but participated during the Capitals' 3-on-3 outdoor scrimmage on Thursday.
"The more you see it on the replay, just to see how tough he is - he went in fast and hard," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I was a little disappointed in the (Boston) Garden faithful, I mean, booing him when he was down. There wasn't a person in the stands that could have taken that kind of hit and got back up."
Defenseman Tom Poti also practiced on Thursday and is expected to play Saturday after being sidelined the last 15 games with a groin injury.
Washington is 1-9-0 with a tie in its last 11 home games against Detroit.