The Detroit Red Wings are seven points out of a wild-card spot and must vault four squads to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs, but they have not given up hope.
As they kick off a five-game road trip by facing the Vancouver Canucks on Monday in the second half of a home-and-home series, the Red Wings are riding a modest two-game winning streak.
After claiming a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday and a 5-2 triumph over the Canucks Saturday, the Red Wings are looking to win three consecutive outings for the first time since late November.
“The last two wins have been huge, huge for our confidence,” said captain Dylan Larkin, who netted two goals and an assist Saturday. “We just need to really bring it against Vancouver again and start the road trip out on the right foot.”
Detroit scored a pair of early goals Saturday and never relinquished the lead.
“Some of the top teams in our league can have an off-night and win. That’s not us,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “This just gives us an opportunity to build off something because this will be a really tough road trip against four good teams, including against two we just beat.”
Having faith that a playoff push is possible adds excitement for the Red Wings.
“We’ve set goals and need to get there,” said Larkin, who has netted three goals and five points in a three-game point streak. “We need some wins, a lot of wins, but there hasn’t been one guy that doesn’t seem like he’s not into going for it. That’s been very refreshing.”
The Canucks, who have only four victories in their last 15 outings (4-10-1), return home after managing just one win during a four-game trip. Defense remains an issue for Vancouver, which surrendered 19 goals on the trip.
“There’s a history here of giving up a lot of freebie goals and we have to clean that up,” Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said. “There was a lot of good things (on the road trip), but if you want to play a fast style of play, you’ve got to be in shape. I think this team has another level of fitness.”
In the seven games since Tocchet took over as coach, the Canucks have a 3-3-1 record in which they have allowed 29 opposing tallies. They trailed by two or more goals in all four games on the road trip. In Detroit, it was 2-0 Red Wings by the 2:35 mark of the first.
“Just a lot of shooting ourselves in the foot,” Vancouver forward Dakota Joshua said. “Not the winning recipe that we came into the game with, and then you catch yourself trying to battle back for pretty much 55 minutes of the game. Not a good recipe.”
Amid their struggles to win, the Canucks have a few players providing offense. Elias Pettersson has netted six goals and eight points during a five-game point streak, while J.T. Miller has six assists in five games and defenseman Quinn Hughes has tallied five helpers in three outings.
Anthony Beauvillier, who was acquired in the trade that sent Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders, has scored one goal in each of the last two games.
–Field Level Media