The return of Nicklas Lidstrom helped Detroit avoid its longest losing streak in over two decades and the Red Wings will try to win consecutive games for the first time in three-plus weeks when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Joe Louis Arena.
Lidstrom, a seven-time Norris Trophy winner, missed 11 straight games after suffering a bone bruise in his right ankle on Feb. 25. Detroit went just 4-5-2 during the captain's absence, but the Red Wings snapped an 0-4-2 slide when Lidstrom came back on Saturday to help his club notch a 5-4 win over visiting Carolina.
The Red Wings enter today as the fifth seed in the West, but are just one point behind idle Nashville for the conference's fourth spot. The Chicago Blackhawks, who are three points behind Detroit, are also off on Monday.
Tonight's test marks the start of a home-and-home series between the Red Wings and Columbus, which is seeded 30th out of 30 NHL teams. Detroit has taken three of four from the Blue Jackets this season and has claimed four of five in the series overall. Columbus, which will host Detroit on Wednesday, has lost seven of its last eight in the Motor City.
Jiri Hudler and Drew Miller each scored in the third period to help Detroit rally for Saturday's regulation win. The Hurricanes led the game 4-1 after a Jiri Tlusty goal with 4:05 left in the second period, but Detroit would score four unanswered goals, ending with Miller's tally at 11:35 of the third.
Henrik Zetterberg added two goals while Todd Bertuzzi also scored for Detroit, which avoided dropping seven straight contests for the first time since Jan. 14-30, 1991.
"I thought we played good. I think everyone thought that we did good things," said Zetterberg. "We just kept going. We got to play 60 minutes and tonight we found a way to score more goals than them."
Ty Conklin stopped 20-of-24 shots in the win. Conklin expects to get a third straight start tonight as Detroit's top two goaltenders, Jimmy Howard (strained groin) and Joey McDonald (back spasms), are still sidelined with injuries.
Detroit is 29-5-2 as the host this season.
Columbus was dealt a 6-3 home loss by the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, giving the Blue Jackets six losses over their last eight games. With the victory, Edmonton ensured that it could not finish lower than Columbus in the NHL standings. The Blue Jackets are 30th in the league with 55 points, leaving them 16 behind 29th-seeded Edmonton with just seven games to play.
Mark Letestu, Derick Brassard and Rick Nash scored on Sunday for the Blue Jackets, while Steve Mason was tagged for five goals on 26 shots in defeat.
"I don't think we played particularly well," Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards said. "We were good maybe the first 15 minutes of the first, once they scored, they started to take over the game. We got what we deserved tonight, that's for sure."
The Blue Jackets have split their last six games on the road, but are still just 10-23-4 as the guest this season.