Red Wings host Blues in key Western battle

The St. Louis Blues will try to match their longest winning streak of the season when they visit the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday for an important clash between a pair of playoff-hopeful clubs.

St. Louis enters Sunday holding onto the eighth seed in the West and is two points ahead of Phoenix for that last playoff spot. The Blues are also just one point behind Detroit for the seventh seed.

The Blues certainly have helped their postseason cause lately, winning three straight to begin the final month of the regular season. St. Louis' only four- game winning streak this season came from Jan. 24-31.

St. Louis won its latest outing over visiting Columbus, posting Friday's 3-1 victory over the Blue Jackets. David Backes scored the game-winning goal for the hosts late in the second period.

Chris Stewart and Patrik Berglund also rippled the net for the Blues, who had lost four of five before this winning streak.

"The best player on the ice was our captain," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock regarding Backes. "He needed to step up with everything that's gone on here and he really stepped up."

Jake Allen snagged the victory thanks to 26 saves. Allen and Brian Elliott will split the goaltending duties while Jaroslav Halak nurses another groin injury. Halak, who has appeared in 16 games during an injury-plagued season, injured his groin in Monday's game against Minnesota and is expected to miss three weeks.

The Blues have won two straight and three of their last four on the road, improving their away record this season to 11-7-1. St. Louis had lost four straight in Detroit before notching a 4-3 overtime win in the Motor City on Feb. 13.

Detroit has won two of its last three games and is coming off Friday's overtime win in Colorado. Pavel Datsyuk scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner with 15.4 seconds left in OT as the Red Wings beat the Avalanche, 3-2.

Gustav Nyquist also lit the lamp for the Red Wings, while Jimmy Howard made 33 saves.

With time winding down in overtime, Henrik Zetterberg put a shot on net that Colorado goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere failed to cover. Datsyuk reached with his stick to poke the loose puck across the goal line.

"I jumped toward the net and followed up on the rebound," Datsyuk said.

The Red Wings are one point behind Minnesota for the West's sixth seed. The Wild are visiting the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

Detroit is kicking off a brief two-game homestand today and then will head out on a four-game road trip. The Red Wings are 10-6-3 as the host this season.

Sunday's test marks the finale of the season series between the Red Wings and Blues. The Central Division foes have split four meetings so far in 2013, but Detroit has won six of eight overall in the series.