Blue Jackets-Red Wings Preview


Nicklas Lidstrom's return provided a spark for the Detroit Red Wings.

A home-and-home set against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets may be what they need to harness some much-needed momentum.

The Red Wings look to get that stretch off to a strong start Monday night by continuing their dominance of the NHL's worst team at Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit (45-25-5) went 3-6-2 while Lidstrom was sidelined with a bone bruise in his right ankle. The seven-time Norris Trophy winner's return seemed to provide a lift Saturday, as he managed an assist while the Red Wings rallied with four unanswered goals for a 5-4 victory over Carolina, snapping a six-game losing streak.

"It's not fun to be without him. It's good to see him playing again," center Henrik Zetterberg said after scoring twice against the Hurricanes. "I thought he looked good, he skated well and made good plays. Looks like he didn't miss a beat.

"We're starting to get healthy. I think we're going to get a few more guys back here hopefully next game, and get ourselves back together and playing well before the postseason."

Goalie Jimmy Howard, forward Johan Franzen and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson are among the injured players yet to return for the Red Wings. It's unclear if any will be back Monday.

Reinforcements could help Detroit improve its playoff position. The team is fifth in the Western Conference, one point behind Nashville, which visits Joe Louis Arena on Friday.

With two games against Columbus (24-44-7) - the team assured of finishing with the worst record in the NHL this season - the Red Wings have a chance to generate some momentum leading into what could be a vital matchup for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Detroit has dominated the Blue Jackets at home to the tune of a 28-5-2 record, including playoffs. The Red Wings took the most recent matchup 5-2 in Columbus on Feb. 28 after winning 3-2 in a shootout at home Jan. 21.

Lidstrom has 31 points in 34 career home games versus the Jackets, getting two goals and one assist in the last two.

Valtteri Filppula has done considerable damage in the last 10 meetings with Columbus, totaling six goals and seven assists. The center had three assists Saturday, giving him 10 to go with six goals over his last 13 contests.

Filppula is tied with Zetterberg with a career-high 62 points, while his 23 goals are also a personal best.

The Blue Jackets have dropped six of eight since a four-game win streak, losing 6-3 to visiting Edmonton on Sunday. They surrendered five goals in the second period, a team record at home.

"We got what we deserved, that's for sure," interim coach Todd Richards said.

Rick Nash had a goal and an assist, converting a penalty shot in the second period. The star left wing has two goals in three games after enduring a seven-game drought.

He scored on a power play against the Red Wings last month and has 14 goals and 11 assists in 28 career visits to Detroit, but just one point in the last three.

It's unclear if Steve Mason will be back in net after getting pulled following Sunday's dismal second period. He had won six of his previous eight games behind a 2.18 goals-against average, but he's 1-6-1 with a 3.53 GAA in his last eight starts in Detroit.

These teams will conclude their season series Wednesday in Columbus.