(Sports Network) - The Detroit Red Wings seek a seventh straight road victory this evening, while the Colorado Avalanche hope to salvage the finale of a five-game homestand as the two clubs meet at the Pepsi Center.
Detroit is 6-1-1 over its last eight games and can win a season high-tying fourth straight game tonight as it continues to chase the top spot in the NHL. Vancouver currently holds that honor, but the Red Wings are coming off Saturday's 2-1 shootout victory over the Canucks. Detroit's 59 points on the season are one back of Vancouver in the standings and nine up on Nashville for first place in the Central Division.
Playing without five regulars on Saturday, Jimmy Howard made 34 saves and stopped all three skaters in the shootout for the Red Wings, who got a goal in regulation by Johan Franzen and the only tally of the breakaway session from Jiri Hudler.
"I think it says a lot about the character on our team, the way we're not giving up," Howard said. "We're clawing our way back in games and hanging in there, waiting for our opportunity."
Already without Mike Modano, Pavel Datsyuk and Dan Cleary, defenseman Brad Stuart (broken jaw) and Valtteri Filppula (groin) are the latest sidelined Red Wings. Stuart is expected to miss 6-to-8 weeks with his recently-suffered injury.
Also, goaltender Chris Osgood was supposed to start on Saturday, but was unable to go do a nagging groin injury. He has since left the team to see a specialist about the ailment, with Detroit recalling Joey MacDonald to serve as Howard's backup.
Detroit has picked up a victory in each of the first three contests of a five- game road trip and is 14-5-1 as the guest. It will try to avoid its first road loss since Dec. 23 as the Avalanche end a five-game homestand that has produced just a 1-2-1 mark so far.
Colorado has lost seven of its last nine since a six-game winning streak from Dec. 10-19, falling 4-3 in overtime to the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Milan Hejduk and David Koci both scored less than two minutes into the game, and Hejduk later forced overtime with his second goal of the game with just four seconds left in regulation, but Craig Anderson was beaten for the game- winner with 68 ticks left in overtime. He ended with 23 saves in all.
"I feel like we were squeezing the stick a little too much now," Colorado's Milan Hejduk said. "We have to take care of our business at home. We got a point tonight, but sometimes one point isn't enough."
The Avs, who have lost six of their last seven at home, are 12 points back of the first-place Canucks in the Northwest Division and seventh overall in the conference.
Tonight is the fourth and final regular-season meeting between the teams this year, with the Red Wings winning the last two. That includes a 4-3 overtime victory at Colorado in the last meeting on Nov. 27, Detroit's fourth victory in the last five matchups overall and fifth in the last seven played at Pepsi Center.
Osgood recorded his 400th victory in that December matchup, while Howard is 3-1-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average against the Avs.
Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg has five goals and nine assists over a 10-game point streak, but has been limited to a mere three assists without a goal in his last nine versus Detroit.
Franzen has three goals and an assist in the four meetings this year, while three of Hudler's 12 points on the year have come versus the Avs, including two of his three goals.
Peter Budaj has started all three games versus the Red Wings, posting a 3.54 GAA, and will get the call again tonight. Lifetime versus the Detroit, Budaj is 4-4-2 with a 3.02 GAA.