Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Ottawa Senators
Venue: Canadian Tire Centre; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Television: Detroit- FSD; Ottawa- SNET-E
The Detroit Red Wings (27-20-12, 66 points, 5th place Atlantic Division) started the stretch run the way any team wanted to, with a victory. Though they gave up a goal with under a minute to play, the Red Wings were able to score themselves with under 30 seconds remaining in overtime to earn a much needed 2 points and another win in the ROW column (Regulation plus overtime win). With the victory, the Red Wings remained in the final playoff spot for another night and opened a three point lead over the ninth place teams. Tonight’s game, and most likely all down the stretch run, will feel like a playoff game as Ottawa is chasing the Red Wings in the standings by three points. A victory tonight for the Red Wings would be a massive win as they would open a five point lead over the Senators in the division.
Standing in the way of a Red Wings victory is the Ottawa Senators (26-22-11, 63 points, 6th place Atlantic Division). So far this season, the Red Wings have not been able to find an answer to the Senators as they have lost two of three to the Senators, those losses in convincing fashion. Tonight’s game comes before a four game West Canada road trip for the Senators. The Senators need a victory tonight to keep the pressure on the Red Wings with such a tough task coming up. Despite the teams being played, it is never easy for an Eastern Conference team to go on a west coast trip.
Starting in net for the Red Wings will be Jonas Gustavsson as Jimmy Howard will get some much needed rest while still dealing with the effects of jet lag after the Olympics. Gustavsson has been a solid backup for Howard this season, and even filling in very well as the starter while Howard dealt with injuries throughout the season.
The Senators will counter with Robin Lehner tonight while Craig Anderson deals with personal items. Lehner has played to a 7-10-0 record with a 2.82 GAA and .919 save percentage in 23 games this season. This will be the second night in a row that the Red Wings will be playing against a team’s backup goalie so a victory here is more important than ever.