Red Wings, Flyers clash in matchup of struggling clubs

( - A pair of struggling Eastern Conference foes will meet for a matinee battle on Saturday, as the Detroit Red Wings visit the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

The Red Wings have lost three of their last four games, but they still are holding onto third place in the Atlantic Division with 85 points, five more than the Boston Bruins.

The Flyers, meanwhile, have critically damaged their playoff chances during a current four-game slide (0-2-2). Philadelphia only has won twice over its last nine games and is 10 points behind Boston for the East's last wild card spot.

Detroit recently split a two-game homestand, beating Edmonton, 5-2, on Monday before dropping Thursday's 3-1 decision to Columbus.

The Wings scored first on Thursday, but the Blue Jackets held a 2-1 lead by the end of the opening period. Scott Hartnell tallied the game-winner with 3:36 remaining in the first.

Detroit lost despite outshooting Columbus 42-26 in the game and 13-1 in the third period alone.

Justin Abdelkader netted Detroit's lone goal at 7:49 of the first period, giving him five goals and one assists over his last six games. Jimmy Howard allowed all three goals on 26 shots in defeat.

"We have to find a way night in and night out," said Howard, who is expected to start again today. "You just have to find a way to fight through it."

The Red Wings are beginning a four-game road trip today and will visit Pittsburgh for another afternoon tilt on Sunday. They are 18-11-4 as the guest this season.

Philadelphia fell 1-0 in a shootout loss Thursday at St. Louis. T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko both scored in the final phase, ruining a brilliant 35-save effort by Steve Mason through regulation and overtime at Scottrade Center.

Mason was credited with his third shutout of the year, but lost his second 1-0 shootout result of the season for the Flyers, who fell 1-0 against the New York Islanders on Nov. 24. Philadelphia also suffered a similar 1-0 shootout defeat in its previous trip to St. Louis back on Apr. 1 of last season.

The Philadelphia netminder stopped all 16 shots he faced through two periods, then came up with 19 more through the game's final 25 minutes.

The Flyers' offense continued to struggle after losing a 2-1 regulation decision against visiting Dallas on Tuesday. Philly, which went 0-for-4 on the power play against the Blues, has a total of five goals during its four-game slide.

"We had our chances," said Flyers captain Claude Giroux. "We had pucks on net, we had our chances and we've got to find a way to put it in."

Philadelphia is 19-9-6 as the host this season, but is at Wells Fargo Center for just one game before hitting the road for four straight. The Flyers are just 9-18-8 on the road and begin the swing tomorrow night in Ottawa.

Today's test is the third and final meeting between the Flyers and Wings this season. Philly posted a 4-2 home win on Oct. 25, but Detroit answered with a 5-2 victory in Motown on Nov. 26 to end a three-game slide in this series.

Detroit has lost nine straight -- all in regulation -- at Philadelphia and hasn't won in the City of Brotherly Love since Jan. 25, 1997.