Something has to give Sunday at Nationwide Arena, where the Columbus Blues Jackets will host the Edmonton Oilers in a clash between struggling teams in desperate need of a win.
The Oilers have lost five straight since beginning the season with a 4-2-0 record. Edmonton is 0-2-3 during its current slide and has scored only eight goals during that stretch.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, have just eight points through their first 11 games and are tied with Colorado for last place in the Western Conference. The club enters Sunday having lost two in a row and four of their last five games.
Edmonton won three of four meetings against the Blue Jackets in 2011-12 and has claimed five of seven overall in the series. However, the Oilers have lost six of eight and seven of their past nine tilts in Ohio.
The Oilers suffered a 2-1 regulation loss Saturday afternoon in Detroit. Niklas Kronwall scored the winner with 13:52 left in the third period to help the Red Wings eke out the close win at Joe Louis Arena.
Nikolai Khabibulin made 28 stops and Justin Schultz had the lone goal of the game for the Oilers.
"He really came to compete and was a leader in this game," Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger said of Khabibulin. "He gave us a chance to win, and he deserved a win."
In the third period with the score tied, Detroit was skating on the power play and Pavel Datsyuk sent the disc from the right circle to the high slot where Kronwall cranked a huge slap shot that blew through a screen and past Khabibulin for a 2-1 lead.
The Oilers couldn't convert the equalizer despite having a 6-on-4 advantage late in the third period after Johan Franzen got whistled for a penalty and Edmonton pulled the goalie for an extra attacker.
The loss dropped Edmonton to 2-3-1 as the guest this season. After Sunday's game in Columbus, the Oilers will head back to Alberta for a five-game homestand that is set to begin Tuesday against Dallas.
Columbus was able to earn a point in its most recent outing, an overtime loss to Calgary on Thursday.
Vinny Prospal scored with nine minutes left in the third period to tie the game at 3-3 for the Blue Jackets. However, Alex Tanguay netted the decisive goal 1:07 into overtime to lift the Flames to the 4-3 decision.
Prospal and Mark Letestu each had a goal and an assist and Matt Calvert also lit the lamp for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky allowed all four goals on 30 shots.
"We have to figure it out. For twenty minutes we're good and then we lose our game, and when it's gone, it's gone. It's not just for one or two shifts, it's for an extended period of time," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said.
The Blue Jackets have one win (1-2-1) so far on a six-game homestand that is set to end Monday against San Jose. Columbus is 2-3-2 as the host this season.