At this point in the season, it can be argued that the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators win when they lose, and vice versa.
While neither team officially has been eliminated from playoff contention, both are more than 20 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Given that, it seems that defeats and gaining more balls for the draft lottery might be more valuable for the Red Wings and Senators going forward, including in their matinee meeting Sunday in Ottawa.
The game will be the second of back-to-back contests between the two Atlantic division rivals.
On Friday, Ottawa earned a 5-2 win over Detroit, just the third win for the Senators (24-37-6, 54 points) in their past 10 games.
The Senators broke open a close game in the third period, scoring four goals in the final period to earn the win.
Mathieu Joseph recorded his first career hat trick and goalie Mads Sogaard made 27 saves in what was his NHL debut to lead Ottawa.
Believe it or not, even though the game was in April, it was the first meeting of the season between the teams.
“We had some really good efforts by some guys, and we had some efforts by some guys that were just OK,” Ottawa head coach D.J. Smith said. “If we can get all 20 going and really get on the forecheck and get working, we’ve got a chance to win again.”
Smith also said the team will be motivated to earn a win in its first home game since owner Eugene Melnyk passed away on Monday at the age of 62.
Melnyk is expected to be honored.
“We have a limited amount of games left,” Smith said. “We want to try and win as many of them as possible. It’s going to be a great crowd for Mr. Melnyk and honoring him. We are going to do everything we can to get a win.”
On the other side, the Red Wings just want to get out of what has been an awful stretch late in the season.
Detroit (26-33-9, 61 points) has won just three times in its past 17 games after hovering around the .500 mark for most of the season.
The biggest problem for Detroit?
Far too many times of late, the Red Wings have seen the puck go in the back of their net.
In its past 17 games, Detroit has given up five or more goals 10 times, including giving up nine or more goals in three of those games.
Detroit has allowed a league-worst 263 goals this season.
“They were out of it well before us this year, they went through their own struggles, and now they are just kind of having fun playing hockey, and we’re not,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We’re trying to grind away and we’ve got to find a way to get that joy back in our game and play with more energy. It won’t be easy on Sunday.”
–Field Level Media