Sports

Red Wings visit Hurricanes aiming to build momentum

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings clinched their 24th straight trip to the postseason, but they aren't exactly going into the playoffs on a roll.

The Red Wings look to build a little momentum in their regular-season finale on Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Detroit tied the Montreal franchise from 1971-94 for the fourth-longest streak in NHL history of reaching the playoffs, but did so despite a 4-3 overtime loss to the Canadiens on Thursday. The point gained plus Boston's regulation loss to Florida moments later sealed the Red Wings' trip to the playoffs.

However, the Red Wings are just 6-10-3 over their past 19 games and can still fall out of third place in the Atlantic Division and into a wild card spot. They lead the Ottawa Senators by a point in the division, but do have two more non-shootout wins. That gives Detroit the tiebreaker so it needs only a point out of this game to clinch third place.

Detroit will know what it needs to do in this game well before it starts as the Ottawa ends its regular season with a matchup at Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.

Veteran Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg helped Detroit get a point on Thursday. Datsyuk, who has missed time recently due to a nagging lower-body injury, had a goal and an assist, while Zetterberg notched two assists.

Tomas Tatar and Darren Helm also scored, while Jimmy Howard allowed four goals on 26 shots faced.

"People talk about 24 years, but for me 10 years since the lockout, we're the only team in the National Hockey League to make it all 10 times," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. "The last three years we've been grinding to get in. We changed our group totally and to find away has been incredible."

Howard once again looked shaky on Thursday and doesn't appear to have the starting job for the playoffs locked up over Petr Mrazek. It is unknown who will start this game.

Howard is 3-2-0 with a 1.99 goals against average and .932 save percentage in five career meetings with the Hurricanes, while Mrazek stopped 34-of-35 shots in a victory the only time he faced Carolina.

The Red Wings eye a three-game season series sweep of the Hurricanes tonight and have won eight of the previous 10 encounters overall. That includes three of their past four trips to Carolina.

The Hurricanes try to end the regular season with a second victory in a row, snapping a two-game slide with Thursday's 3-1 win over the Flyers. Cam Ward made 27 saves, while Brett Bellemore, Ryan Murphy and Jordan Staal had the goals.

Defenseman Keegan Lowe made his NHL debut and fought Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier twice.

"He did a good job. He competes, and we know he's a competitive player and he was competitive tonight," said Hurricanes coach Bill Peters of Lowe, the son of former NHLer and current Edmonton president Kevin Lowe.

Ward is 2-5-1 versus the Red Wings with a 2.75 GAA, .924 save percentage and one shutout in eight games.