(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings hope to return to the win column on Tuesday when the playoff-hopeful club visits the Buffalo Sabres for a clash at First Niagara Center.
Detroit is in position to secure its 23rd straight playoff berth, as it currently sits in the first of two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings, who last missed the postseason in 1990, are one point ahead of Columbus and four in front of New Jersey and Toronto. The Blue Jackets host Phoenix on Tuesday, while the Devils and Maple Leafs are idle.
The Red Wings had won four straight before losing Saturday's 5-3 decision in Montreal. Detroit rallied from a 3-0 deficit to even the score in the third period, but the Canadiens recovered to win it in regulation.
Detroit used third-period goals from Pavel Datsyuk, Justin Abdelkader and Niklas Kronwall to tie the contest, but Brian Gionta restored Montreal's lead with 6:47 left and Alex Galchenyuk added an insurance tally a little over two minutes later.
Kronwall also added an assist in the loss, while Johan Franzen notched a pair of helpers. Meanwhile, Jonas Gustavsson only stopped 21 of the 26 shots he faced.
"The puck went in our net way too often. Obviously, you can't give up five on the road and expect to win," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock.
Detroit fell to 19-15-4 as the guest and is playing the middle portion of a three-game road trip tonight. The Red Wings will complete the swing Wednesday night at Pittsburgh.
Tuesday's game marks an excellent chance for Detroit to get back on track, as the Red Wings have won seven straight and 10 of their last 11 games against Buffalo. The Sabres also have lost three in a row and six of their past seven home tests against Detroit.
The Sabres are assured of finishing last in the NHL standings and enter Tuesday having dropped three straight, seven of eight and 14 of their last 16 games.
Buffalo was dealt a 5-2 loss Sunday night in Philadelphia. Cody Hodgson and Mike Weber each supplied a goal, while Nathan Lieuwen stopped 32 shots for the Sabres.
"We still have four games left to play but we just got out-battled, out- competed," Hodgson admitted. "I think when you watch the game, you can see that. As a team and individuals we can all improve."
Buffalo defenseman Chad Ruhwedel suffered a concussion after taking an elbow to the head from Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo, who was suspended four games for the hit.
Lieuwen also suffered a concussion in Sunday's game and both he and Ruhwedel will sit out Buffalo's final week of the season.
The Sabres are playing their penultimate home game of the season on Tuesday and are just 13-20-6 in Western New York. Next up for Buffalo is a two-game road trip, which will be followed by the club's season-ending home game Sunday against the New York Islanders.