Sports

Red Wings, Penguins look to rebound in Pittsburgh

(SportsNetwork.com) - Saturday wasn't the best of days for either the Detroit Red Wings or the Pittsburgh Penguins, with one club possibly reaching a low point in its season and the other losing two of its top players.

The Red Wings and Penguins both look to bounce back on Sunday afternoon when the clubs clash in Pittsburgh.

Detroit has allowed things to tighten up in its race for a playoff spot, having lost four of its last five games. That includes a lopsided 7-2 loss to the hosting Philadelphia Flyers yesterday afternoon as Jimmy Howard was blitzed for all seven goals on 36 shots faced.

Justin Abdelkader did score for a third game in a row, giving him six goals in his past six games, and Erik Cole also lit the lamp as the Red Wings lost the opener of a four-game road trip.

Detroit has now fallen six points back of the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division and is only three points up on the two teams holding the two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference.

"You've got to hit rock bottom before you can turn it around. Hopefully we did that," Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg told his club's website after Saturday's loss.

One of those wild card teams chasing the Red Wings are the division-rival Boston Bruins, who blanked the Penguins 2-0 on Saturday. Pittsburgh found out shortly before the game that Sidney Crosby would be unable to play and the club then lost Evgeni Malkin early in the contest following a first-period hit.

"I was told that Sid was seeing the doctors and wasn't feeling well after warmups," said Penguins coach Mike Johnston. "Geno was hit during the game. He tried to come back after that and he couldn't."

Malkin will not play versus Detroit while Crosby will be a game-time decision.

Thomas Greiss made 28 saves in defeat as the Penguins lost in regulation for only the second time in their last 10 games (7-2-1). They are two points behind the New York Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division with three games in hand.

"It's tough when you lose two guys like that right away, but everyone's got to step in and help," said Pittsburgh's Brandon Sutter.

The Pens did get defenseman Christian Ehrhoff back from a six-game absence caused by a concussion, but the status of Crosby and Malkin for today's game is unknown. Pittsburgh did recall forward Andrew Ebbett from the minor leagues on Saturday night.

The Red Wings and Penguins have split the first two of three meetings this season, with each club winning at home. Pittsburgh took the most recent encounter 4-1 on Feb. 11, its fourth victory in the past five meetings in the Steel City.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves in the victory and will start today for Pittsburgh. He is 6-5-1 lifetime versus the Red Wings with a 2.78 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 12 games.

Petr Mrazek will start today for Detroit and he faced Pittsburgh for the first time in his career in that February loss. It wasn't the best of outings as he allowed four goals on 17 shots before getting lifted after two periods.