DETROIT -- As the Detroit Red Wings continue fighting for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they’re also gaining valuable experience competing in playoff-like atmospheres. 

Saturday’s 1-0 shutout loss to the Nashville Predators marked the first of five consecutive road games against postseason-contending clubs for the Red Wings, who practiced Monday at Little Caesars Arena’s BELFOR Training Center before hitting the road for Tuesday’s pivotal matchup against the Washington Capitals.

“That’s what playoff hockey is,” Joe Veleno said about Saturday’s tightly contested game in Nashville. “I’ve never experienced it, but from what we hear in the locker room and what other guys are talking about, those are the kind of games you’re going to get this late in the year when you’re playing good teams battling for spots.”

Entering Monday, Detroit (36-29-6; 78 points) trailed Washington (35-26-9; 79 points) by one point for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. And given how tight the standings are with just 11 regular-season games remaining, the Red Wings know the stakes are quickly rising.

“Everyone is kind of in the same boat right now, trying to get ready for the playoffs or get in the playoffs,” Ben Chiarot said. “You don’t have a choice. You have to match that intensity."

Games this late in the regular season look and feel different, according to Detroit’s veterans. They’re more physical, fast paced and each bring a heightened level of importance.

“It’s a fun time of year,” said Patrick Kane, who’s played in 143 Stanley Cup Playoffs games. “It’s almost like you’re in the playoffs right now, even though there’s 11 games left. You look at tomorrow like it’s a playoff game. Obviously it’s a team ahead of us in the standings. If we beat them, we’re in a playoff spot. I know they have a game in hand, but they’re playing really well right now. It’ll be a good test for us, but these games are fun to play in.”

Kane said this final stretch will be a great growth opportunity for the younger Red Wings.

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“Just playing in the playoffs is a different animal,” Kane said. “But these games leading up to it, especially when they mean so much, I think for some of these guys are the biggest games they’ve played in during their NHL careers.”

One such player is the 24-year-old Veleno, who said he’s trying to learn from this playoff push as much as he can.

“It’s been a fun couple months since the deadline, knowing we have full trust of this group,” Veleno said. “The other years, obviously, we weren’t as deep as we are this year. I think it’s pretty important for us. We want to establish a good, winning culture here and us young guys are going to be the ones who will hopefully bring that up.”