RED WINGS (46-25-5) at BLUE JACKETS (24-45-7)
TV: NBCSN (HD)
Detroit 3-5-2; Columbus 3-7-0
This is the sixth and final meeting of the season, and the back-half of a home-and-home. On Monday, Detroit scored seven unanswered goals to start the game and ended up winning 7-2 to push its season series edge to 4-1-0.
After having their way with the Blue Jackets on Monday, the Red Wings go for the home-and-home sweep at Nationwide Arena- and they should buoyed by the return of leading goal-scorer Johan Franzen
. Columbus, already assured of a last-place finish in the overall standings, will look to avoid its third straight loss.
After being depleted by injuries for much of March, Detroit is getting back to full strength just into for the postseason. Captain Nicklas Lidstrom
, who missed 11 games with an ankle injury, returned for Saturday's 5-4 win against Carolina and has a goal and an assist in two games back. Now it appears Franzen (back spasms) and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson
(left wrist) will be available Wednesday. That's a terrifying prospect for Columbus because even without those two, Detroit put on an offensive clinic at Joe Louis Arena on Monday. The Wings scored seven straight goals, a few of them worthy of the season-highlight reel, as Detroit clinched a postseason spot for the 21st
"It's great for us right now," said rookie center Gustav Nyquist, who scored his first career goal off a fantastic pass from Pavel Datsyuk. "We had a little rough go there, but I thought we played great against Carolina and (Monday) we came out hard."
Blue Jackets: Columbus has been relegated to an early summer for some time now, but Monday's performance in Detroit did not provide any encouraging signs for the future. The Blue Jackets were outclassed at nearly every turn. Thanks to giveaways in their own zone and some suspect defending, it was 4-0 with 10 minutes gone. Detroit scored the first seven, and Steve Mason was pulled - for the second straight game - after conceding six goals on 28 shots.
"We could've had Patrick Roy in there, Ken Dryden, wouldn't have mattered," interim coach Todd Richards said. "It was too easy for them."
Who's Hot: Franzen leads Detroit with 26 goals on the season, and has three goals and two assists in four games against the Jackets. Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi are coming off four-assist games on Monday. … Columbus captain Rick Nash has three goals and two assists over his last four games.
Injury Report: In addition to Franzen and Ericsson, backup goaltender Joey MacDonald is questionable with back spasms, while starting goalie Jimmy Howard is doubtful with a strained groin. Darren Helm will miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained ligament in his left knee. … For Columbus, Derek MacKenzie (concussion) and James Wisniewski (concussion-like symptoms) are questionable, while Curtis Sanford (torn left quadriceps), Fedor Tyutin (broken right hand), Marc Methot (broken jaw) and Kristian Huselius (groin) are all out for the season.
Stat Pack: The Wings have been two different teams this season -- they lead the NHL with 30 home wins but are just 16-20-3 on the road and have lost six in a row away from Joe Louis Arena. They haven't lost seven in a row on the road since 1985-86.
Puck Drop: Richards is expecting a much better effort from his team than what he saw on Monday.
"We were just outworked, outbattled, outcompeted, outskated," Richards said. "However you want to describe it. They were faster, bigger, stronger. It came down to playing smart and playing hard and we didn't do either.
"We're playing in front of our home crowd (Wednesday), and we got to give a much better performance."