(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to continue to claw their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff race when they aim for a seventh straight win in Tuesday's road clash against the Detroit Red Wings.
Columbus, which made the playoffs last season for only the second time in team history, began the season with a 6-15-2 record before beginning December on a six-game tear. The Blue Jackets' latest victory came Saturday against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, who eliminated Columbus in six games during last spring's Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The Jackets earned a measure of revenge for last season's playoff defeat with the recent 4-3 shootout victory against the Penguins. Ryan Johansen was credited with the game winner in the tiebreaker, as Columbus recovered from a Pittsburgh rally late in regulation to post the win at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus fell behind 2-1 after Kris Letang notched a short-handed goal at 7:22 of the third period. The Blue Jackets would take the lead after goals from Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson, the latter player's tally coming with 2:11 left to stake the home club to a 3-2 advantage.
Letang would strike again, however, as the defenseman tied the game by beating Sergei Bobrovsky with a slap shot with just 10.9 seconds remaining in regulation. Pittsburgh had goaltender Thomas Greiss pulled in favor of the extra attacker to get the tying goal.
In the end, the Blue Jackets would regroup for the shootout victory. Cam Atkinson and Johansen scored on the hosts' first two attempts, while Letang kept the visitors in it with a score on the Pens' second try. Nick Foligno's backhander then went wide of the net for Columbus, but Bobrovsky stopped Brandon Sutter to end the contest.
Foligno added the other regulation goal for the Blue Jackets, while Bobrovsky made 33 saves for the victory.
"That's a big two points for us," Foligno said. "We've got to make sure we tighten up those 6-on-5s. We've got to find away to be a little better, a little smarter. It's tough against a high-powered team like that."
Despite its dreadful start to the season, the Blue Jackets enter today's action only six points out of a playoff spot in the East.
The Red Wings are tied with Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division, but they'll try to avoid posting their longest losing streak of the season tonight.
Detroit has lost three in a row with the first two setbacks coming via the shootout before losing 4-1 Saturday in Toronto. The Red Wings also went 0-2-1 from Nov. 2-5, but Mike Babcock's club hasn't dropped four in a row since a six-game skid from Dec. 7-17 of last season.
Two of the Red Wings' losses on this slide came against the Maple Leafs, who followed up Wednesday's 2-1 shootout victory in Detroit with Saturday's home triumph. In between the setbacks against Toronto, the Wings were handed a 3-2 shootout defeat in Friday's meeting with visiting Florida.
Detroit outshot the Leafs 42-19 in Wednesday's setback, but Toronto won the shot battle 41-28 in Saturday's rematch. Niklas Kronwall scored for Detroit and Petr Mrazek gave up three goals on 40 shots in the road loss.
The Red Wings hope to get back on track at Joe Louis Arena, where they boast an 11-3-4 record this season. Detroit is beginning a four-game homestand tonight.
After getting slammed 5-0 at home by Detroit on Nov. 18, Columbus is hoping for a better result against the Red Wings tonight in the Motor City. The Jackets have claimed six of the past eight meetings in this series overall, but Detroit holds a 4-1-1 record in the past six encounters at the Joe.
Columbus has won only three times in its last 12 trips to Motown.
Jimmy Howard is expected to start in net for the Red Wings tonight. Detroit's No. 1 backstop is 11-4-2 with a 1.94 goals against average in his career against Columbus.
Bobrovsky is 4-3-1 with a 2.37 GAA in this matchup.
On the injury front for Detroit, the club is hoping to get forward Justin Abdelkader (shoulder) and defenseman Danny DeKeyser (upper body) back tonight. DeKeyser missed both games over the weekend, while Abdelkader has sat out the last six tilts.