DETROIT - While the San Jose Sharks continue their quest for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings look to maintain their hold on eighth place in the Western Conference when the clubs meet at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday.
San Jose is one point behind the Los Angeles Kings for fourth place in the West, failing to overtake the reigning Stanley Cup champions by dropping a 4-0 decision to the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Tuesday. The loss also kept the Sharks from putting some distance between themselves and the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild, who both trail San Jose by one point.
Detroit holds a one-point edge over Phoenix and a two-point advantage on the Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars. The Red Wings have been idle since Sunday, when they were shut out 1-0 at home by St. Louis. Following the showdown with San Jose, Detroit embarks on a four-game road trip that begins Friday in Chicago. The trek then takes the club to Nashville and Calgary before concluding in Vancouver on April 20.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, CSN California (San Jose), FSN (Detroit)
ABOUT THE SHARKS (20-12-7): San Jose is hoping a trend is not forming. After winning all seven of their games in January, the Sharks began February with a shootout loss before going 0-4-2 over their next six contests. The club posted consecutive wins only once until putting together another seven-game winning streak from March 25-April 5.
But it suffered another shootout loss to Dallas on Sunday and was blanked by Columbus in the opener of a four-game road trip. Coach Todd McLellan was highly critical of his team after Tuesday's defeat.
"We skated in sand, and even worse, we probably had our heads in the sand," he said. "That's a bad combination. We had the intensity of an exhibition game - and it's April. That's sad."
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (19-15-5): Detroit has struggled offensively of late, scoring three goals or fewer in each of its last eight games. Coach Mike Babcock has been attempting to light a fire under his forwards, shuffling lines during practice.
"We need to generate (offense)," he said. "We don't want to give up anymore chances against and we want to be solid defensively and continue that way. But we'd like to generate more offense."
Damien Brunner has missed the last three games with a hip injury but believes he's ready to get back on the ice.
"No pain at all," he said. "I hope I'll be back in the lineup."
1. Goals were at a premium in the first two games of the season series as the teams combined for a total of four tallies.
2. San Jose has won only 10 of its last 34 visits to Detroit.
3. The Sharks have earned points in six of their last seven meetings (5-1-1) with the Red Wings.
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