(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings hope to at least keep pace in the Atlantic Division on Thursday night when they play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Red Wings sit third in the division with 85 points, seven up on the fourth-place Boston Bruins but also five back of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The second-place Bolts are a point behind the Montreal Canadiens and all four playoff-hopeful clubs are in action tonight.
Detroit snapped a two-game slide on Monday with a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Jimmy Howard made 36 saves, while Teemu Pulkkinen, Riley Sheahan and Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and an assist each.
Niklas Kronwall and Justin Abdelkader also scored in the Red Wings' fourth victory in six games. Henrik Zetterberg added three assists.
"It took us a while to get going. We had our goaltender give up the first one and I thought he played real well after that," said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. "Anytime you start and give up an ugly goal and you're on your heels, it takes you while to get going."
Howard is expected to start tonight and is 11-4-3 with a 1.83 goals against average and .932 save percentage in 20 games (19 starts) versus the Blue Jackets. He has shut them out three times in his career, including in each of the previous two meetings to give him an active shutout streak of 138 minutes and two seconds.
Howard posted 28 saves in a 5-0 victory at Columbus on Nov. 18, then took a tough-luck 1-0 shootout loss on Dec. 16 at home despite another 29 saves.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves for Columbus and Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner had shootout tallies.
The Blue Jackets have won three of four and seven of their last nine versus the Red Wings.
Bobrovsky is in line to start both tonight and on Friday against the Edmonton Oilers. He is 5-3-1 versus the Red Wings with a 2.10 GAA, .934 save percentage and two shutouts.
Johansen and Bobrovsky both keyed Tuesday's 4-3 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Johansen had the lone tally of the tiebreaker and Bobrovsky followed with a stop on Jeff Skinner to seal the win.
Though Columbus gave up a pair of power-play goals, it got all three of its regulation tallies on the man advantage. Scott Hartnell scored twice and Rene Bourque also tallied.
"Our power play was big," Columbus head coach Todd Richards said. "We found a way to win this hockey game.
Bobrovsky, meanwhile, ended with 29 saves as Columbus improved to just 2-7-1 over its past 10 games.
Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno was a late scratch due to illness, but could return tonight. However, both Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov are now questionable due to illness.