The Vancouver Canucks are closing in on a fifth straight Northwest Division title, but they haven't had any success against the Detroit Red Wings this season.
Another victory in this series would do wonders for struggling Detroit as it tries to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in 23 years.
The Red Wings look to avoid losing for the fifth time in six games Saturday night when they visit a Canucks team they've thoroughly dominated in 2013.
Detroit (20-16-7) finds itself two points behind the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference with five games remaining. The Red Wings are on the outside looking in due to a 3-5-2 stretch that has caused them to drop from fifth place to 10th in the West.
They fell to 1-2-2 in their last five with Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Calgary in the third stop of a four-game trip. Detroit, which last missed the playoffs following the 1989-90 season, went 0 for 5 on the power and has converted 2-of-19 chances over the past five contests.
"This is an urgent moment for us," coach Mike Babcock told the Red Wings' official website. "You have to win your way in, you can't watch your way in. ... We're not at the level that we've been in the past, for sure, but we've still competed hard."
Johan Franzen scored for the third straight game for Detroit, which lost all three matchups with the lowly Flames. The Red Wings, however, have had better results against the division-leading Canucks (24-13-7).
Detroit has come away with a pair of easy victories, winning 8-3 at home Feb. 24 and 5-2 in Vancouver on March 16. In fact, the Red Wings have been able to secure at least one point in 21 of the last 28 matchups by going 17-7-4.
Henrik Zetterberg has three goals and two assists against the Canucks this season, while Justin Abdelkader, Joakim Andersson, Damien Brunner and Dan Cleary have each scored twice. Brunner also has three assists, and Pavel Datsyuk has assisted on five of the Red Wings' 13 goals.
Roberto Luongo started both games for Vancouver in falling to 1-2-1 with a 4.57 goals-against average in his last four starts versus Detroit.
Cory Schneider has started the last two games for the Canucks, a 2-1 shootout loss to St. Louis on Tuesday and a 5-1 defeat to Dallas on Thursday that concluded a five-game trip.
Vancouver, which leads second-place Minnesota by four points in the Northwest, has lost three of four following a 10-2-0 surge.
"We're 44 games into the season," Schneider said. "Playoffs start in a week and a half. I think we're past the point of learning lessons. I think we need to go out and do it, execute and be the team that we know we can be because I don't think we're showing it for a full 60 minutes."
The Canucks finish the season by playing three of four at home, where they've outscored opponents 18-5 in winning six straight and are 13-5-3. Vancouver won its final seven home games last season.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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