NHL

Red Wings host Kings, Sharks visit Coyotes on TSN2

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The Sports Network
4/24/2013 10:53:05 AM
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(Sports Network) - Catch a doubleheader of NHL action on TSN2 tonight.

First up, the Detroit Red Wings host the Los Angeles Kings at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt followed by the San Jose Sharks visiting the Phoenix Coyotes at 10pm et/7pm pt.

Thanks to a victory last time out, it will be up to the Red Wings whether or not they make the playoffs.

Hoping to avoid missing out on the postseason for the first time since 1990, the Red Wings try to grab control of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West on Wednesday night as they host the defending champion Los Angeles Kings.

Detroit has 50 points on the season and sits ninth overall in the conference with three games to play. That has the club one point back of the eighth-place Columbus Blue Jackets, who have one fewer game left on their regular-season schedule and are off on Wednesday.

Both teams will be in action on Thursday, with the Red Wings hosting the Nashville Predators and the Blue Jackets visiting the Dallas Stars.

Detroit, which has made the playoffs in 21 straight seasons, was coming off a 1-1-2 road trip and had lost five of six overall heading into Monday's meeting with the visiting Phoenix Coyotes, but came through with a 4-0 victory thanks to 34 saves by Jimmy Howard.

Howard notched his fourth shutout of the season and 15th of his career.

"This was a huge game for us tonight," he said. "Knowing where we were in the standings and coming off a disappointing road trip, we knew we needed these two points if we're going to get in."

Johan Franzen scored twice, Damien Brunner posted a goal and an assist while Valtteri Filppula also scored for the Red Wings, who scored three power-play goals.

The Kings will face a desperate team for the second night in a row after dropping Tuesday night's game with the Minnesota Wild 2-1. The Wild are seventh overall in the West with 53 points, two more than the Blue Jackets.

Jonathan Bernier made 23 saves but was victimized for a pair of goals 16 seconds apart in the first period. Jeff Carter got the Kings on the board when he scored with less than a second to go in the middle frame.

"We didn't play three periods tonight and didn't deserve to win," said Kings forward Dustin Brown. "We knew coming in they're fighting for a playoff spot, they're right there. They played with the determination to win tonight."

Carter's goal was his eighth in 13 games and 26th of the season, fourth most in the NHL.

Los Angeles, which had won four of five coming in, has lost five straight on the road and sits fourth overall in the West with 57 points. That is the same number as the San Jose Sharks, but the Kings hold the current tiebreaker with two games left to play for both clubs.

The Sharks visit the Coyotes tonight and then the Kings on Saturday to close the regular season.

The Kings and Red Wings have split their previous two meetings this season, with each club picking up a home win. Detroit has won four of the last six encounters overall and has taken three straight at home in the series.

Sharks at Coyotes (TSN2, TSN Mobile TV at 10pm et/7pm pt)

If the playoffs were to start right now, San Jose would open its first-round matchup on the road. That isn't the ideal situation for the Sharks, who on Wednesday try to move into the fourth seed in the Western Conference as they take on the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Sharks have won four of their past five games and Tuesday's 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars clinched the club's ninth straight trip to the playoffs. They have as many points as the fourth-place Los Angeles Kings, but the defending champions own the current tiebreaker with seven more non-shootout wins.

Both teams have two games left to play and the Kings are visiting the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night. San Jose will then visit Los Angeles to close the regular season on Saturday.

The idle St. Louis Blues are just one point behind the Sharks and Kings with two games to play as well.

The Sharks needed just one point last night to lock up a playoff spot, but got two thanks to third-period goals from Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture 30 seconds apart. Raffi Torres also scored and Antti Niemi made 24 saves.

"It was a crazy year. It's obviously not over yet," Couture said. "Just the 48-game schedule, so many games back-to-back and inconsistency of the seven- game winning streak, the big losing streak and then the stretch we've gone on now. It's been a weird year. Our main goal from day one was to get into the playoffs. We've done that now so I guess that's all that matters going forward."

Couture was referring to the 0-4-3 stretch that followed San Jose's season- opening seven-game win streak, the best start in franchise history.

Consistency has also plagued the Sharks at home and on the road. They are 17-2-5 in San Jose this season and 8-12-2 as the visiting club.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, reached the Western Conference finals last season, but enter play on Wednesday five points back of the eighth spot in the West with just three games to play. They were blanked 4-0 by the Detroit Red Wings in their last trip to the ice on Monday.

"Things don't look like they're in our favor right now," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett. "But there's no quit in this group. We'll come home and take it one game at a time."

Mike Smith gave up three goals on 22 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost five of their past seven while getting shut out three times in that span. That includes a 4-0 home loss to San Jose on April 15.

Niemi made 35 saves in that game, Tommy Wingels had a goal and an assist and Couture also scored for the Sharks, who have won three of four versus the Coyotes this season and snapped a four-game slide in Phoenix.

Jason LaBarbera allowed all four goals on 41 shots for the Coyotes.

Pavel Datsyuk (Photo: David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

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(Photo: David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
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