The Red Wings look to notch a fifth straight home win and deal a damaging blow to the Blue Jackets’ playoff hopes when they meet Saturday night.
Detroit (43-14-8) is tied with San Jose with a league-high 94 points, although the Sharks have two games in hand. The Red Wings are 12-3-1 since the start of February and are showing no signs of slowing down.
“You want to try to stay up there,” right wing Johan Franzen said. “I think we are starting to play better and better.”
Columbus (32-27-6) is trying to reach the postseason for the first time in its ninth season, and is in playoff position in the crowded Western Conference race. But the Blue Jackets have lost four of their last six as they enter a building in which they have won just three times in regulation in 24 games (5-17-2).
Both teams have key players injured. The Red Wings were without leading goal scorer Marian Hossa on Wednesday in a 3-2 win at Colorado. He sat out with a sore neck and knee after he was injured the night before in St. Louis when he slammed into the end boards and had to be carried off the ice on a gurney.
Hossa is not expected to play Saturday.
“It looked really scary,” Franzen said. “When he fell into the boards, it looked like his head took a lot of weight. The good thing is he’s OK.”
Columbus fell 4-2 at Nashville on Thursday and lost center Fredrik Modin early when he re-aggravated a knee injury. Modin was playing for the first time after missing eight games with a sprained left knee.
“He’s such a big part of our team, especially when we’re on the road and for when we need that extra kick,” Blue Jackets star Rick Nash said. “It’s tough to lose any guy and be short a guy.”
The Blue Jackets were hurt again by the lack of production from their league-worst power play. They failed to convert on three chances, including a 5-on-3 opportunity in the first period.
“It exposed a lot of things we need to work on,” coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Detroit, meanwhile, earned its first win over last-place Colorado in four tries as Franzen and Kris Draper scored in the second period. Valtteri Filppula had a tying goal in the first, marking the second consecutive game he scored in after 18 straight without a goal.
The Red Wings are 2-1-1 against the Blue Jackets this season, with the home team winning each meeting.