NHL

Pens, Wings aim to end respective skids

DETROIT -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings are both on losing streaks, but that is where the similarities end.

The Red Wings host the Penguins at Joe Louis Arena at 7 p.m., on Saturday.

Pittsburgh (26-10-5) lost its past two games, 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday and 5-2 to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.

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Detroit (17-19-6) is on a three-game losing streak (0-2-1), with their its recent setback a 5-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.

The Penguins, defending Stanley Cup champions, had not lost two consecutive games in regulation since Dec. 14-19, 2015. A key to the two losses was the penalty kill, which allowed four power-play goals in the two games.

"Our penalty kill has to improve," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "We can't give up shorthanded goals against night in and night out and expect to sustain winning."

Sullivan didn't see the end if the loss to Ottawa. He was ejected from the game by referee Wes McCauley with less than two minutes left.

"I was probably a little bit surprised but it is what it is," Sullivan said. "That's between the refs and the coaches and that's where it will stay."

Despite the losses, the Penguins total of 57 points is the third most in franchise history after 41 games.

The Red Wings are coming off a seven-game road trip that saw them go 2-3-2. During Detroit's three-game winless skid, it's defensive play has deteriorated, allowing 15 goals.

"We've got to get tighter defensively. We can't continue to give up this many goals and expect to win," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill told www.mlive.com. "So, we're going to have to tighten up defensively without losing our offensive attack."

Detroit led 2-1 after the first period Thursday, but allowed three goals in the second period, all the result of turnovers or miscues.

"We started playing a little sloppy in the second, didn't get the puck down. Passed up a lot of shots and gave them a lot if 2- on- 1 rushes," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "And that's a tough team to do that to. "In the third, I thought we got back to playing the way we wanted to. We created chances but it's tough to score five to win."

That has been something that has been almost impossible for the team this season. The Red Wings rank 25th in the NHL in goals (2.38 per game) and their power play us last at 11.4 percent. And When Gustav Nyquist scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal against Dallas, it was Detroit's first road power- play goal since Oct. 19, breaking an 0-for-57 drought away from Joe Louis Arena.

It was the first goal for Nyquist, who only has five goals this season, in 21 games.

The Red Wings also find themselves in unfamiliar territory.

The team that has reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 25 consecutive seasons, the longest active streak in North American professional sports, are last in the Atlantic Division, eight points behind the Ottawa Senators, who are in the Atlantic Division's third playoff spot.

And there are four teams between Detroit and Ottawa.

The Red Wings haven't finished last in their division since 1989-90 -- the season before the playoff streak began -- when they brought up the rear of the old Norris Division of the Campbell Conference.