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Leafs, Red Wings collide looking for spark toward playoffs

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The Sports Network
3/18/2014 12:51:15 PM
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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Maple Leafs enter an Original Six clash with the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena having lost two of its last three games, but with 80 points, the Leafs are occupying the first of the two wild card spots in the East.

Detroit's sagging offence is making the club's push for a 23rd straight playoff appearance a difficult task. The Red Wings, who last missed the postseason during the spring of 1990, are three points behind the New York Rangers for the last playoff berth in the East and seven back of Toronto.

The Leafs fell to 2-2-0 on a five-game road trip after dropping a 4-2 decision at Washington on Sunday. Toronto fell behind 3-0 in the first 10 minutes of the game and never recovered.

Dion Phaneuf and Troy Bodie lit the lamp for the Maple Leafs, while James Reimer stopped 29 shots in defeat.

Reimer will start again tonight with No. 1 netminder Jonathan Bernier currently dealing with a groin strain. Bernier suffered the injury in Thursday's win over Los Angeles and was unable to dress for Sunday's tilt in D.C.

Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle updated Bernier's status after practice on Monday.

"Jonathan Bernier went for an MRI today and it was revealed that he has a low- grade groin strain," Carlyle said. "We don't believe it is week-to-week but rather day-to-day."

The Red Wings have scored just three goals over their last four games. The club is 1-3-0 during that stretch, with the lone win coming in a shootout decision against visiting Edmonton on Friday.

The offensive issues are no surprise considering the Red Wings are still playing without a host of key forwards, including captain Henrik Zetterberg and Russian superstar Pavel Datsyuk.

"You can't look ahead at all," Red Wings defenceman Danny DeKeyser told his team's official website. "You have to take it one game at a time. Every game, if you don't get points it could come back and haunt you. It could be the last game of the year, but we don't want to be at that point. We want to be in the playoffs after 82 games."

Detroit managed just one goal in Sunday's 4-1 road loss against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Red Wings trailed the contest 2-1 after 40 minutes before the defending Stanley Cup champions salted away the win by scoring the only two goals of the third period.

"I thought we were in a good situation after two," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. "We were set up and we let it slip away."

Jimmy Howard stopped 26 shots for the reeling Red Wings, who have lost five of their last seven games.

Adding to Detroit's injury problems, forward Justin Abdelkader left Sunday's game with a lower-body injury and head coach Mike Babcock confirmed on Tuesday that he is out ten days to two weeks after his leg was cut against the Blackhawks. 

Questionable for tonight's contest is Todd Bertuzzi (lower-body injury). If the veteran winger us unable to go tonight, the Red Wings will us callup forward Landon Ferraro from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. Ferraro, the son of former NHLer and TSN Hockey Analyst Ray Ferraro, was a second-round pick by Detroit in 2009, but has yet to make his NHL debut. He has 13 goals and 15 assists in 60 games for the Griffins this season.

Howard expects to get the start for Detroit on Tuesday. He is 0-1-1 with a 2.82 goals against average in his career versus the Maple Leafs.

Toronto is 14-14-7 as the visiting team this season. After completing its swing on Tuesday, the Leafs will play seven of their next nine games on home ice.

Detroit is just 13-11-9 at home this season, but the Wings have won two straight at the Joe and are 3-0-1 in their last four games in Motown.

This is the third of four meetings between the Red Wings and Leafs this season. The clubs have split both encounters so far, with each team picking up a shootout win.

Tuesday's game marks the first encounter between the clubs since Toronto recorded a 3-2 win on Jan. 1 in the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.

Drew Miller and Nazem Kadri (Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images)
Maple Leafs (80PTS) at Red Wings (73PTS) - 7:30pm et

Teams have split two games this season, both in a shootout TOR is 1-0-0 in DET this season, winning Winter Classic

DET (30-24-13):
7 of past 11 home games decided past regulation
1-3-0 past 4 games, 3GF, 1/15 on PP
Ferraro called up, would be the 7th player to make NHL debut with DET this season
Ray Ferraro played his final NHL game vs DET
Alfredsson (1G, 1A) vs TOR this season

TOR (36-25-8):
25-6-4 when scoring first
28th ranked PK (78.4%)
2-2-0 on road trip, 2/10 on PP, 3 or fewer goals in each game
Phaneuf (1G, 2A) vs DET this season
Raymond (1G, 3A) 3 game PT streak
Kessel (0PTS) last 3GP, 8 shots on net
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