The Detroit Red Wings are in danger of losing any realistic hope they can make a playoff run as the All-Star break approaches and will look to start a much-needed hot streak at home against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
The Wings have gone 1-3-1 since Jan. 14 and 3-6-1 since Jan. 4, with a damaging 2-1 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
"We certainly feel we played good enough to win," said Red Wings team captain Dylan Larkin, who is a point away from 400 in his career. "The effort level is not the issue. It's just when we are on our game, we have to capitalize, we have to make teams pay. We're up 3-1 in Arizona and we don't put it away (in a 4-3 shootout loss).
"We had chances, we just don't put it away. We need to start. That's the maturing and growing as a team. We need to find ways to put teams away."
Once one of the undisputed powerhouses in the NHL, the Red Wings haven't made the playoffs the past six seasons. They've shown gradual improvement since they hired Steve Yzerman as their general manager but still can't match the talent of some of the league's elite clubs.
"We put three pretty good periods together (Saturday), and we've put a ton of good hockey together (recently)," first-year coach Derek Lalonde said. "Our outcomes are up and down."
Against the Flyers, the Red Wings were engaged in a scoreless battle until they surrendered two third-period goals. Lucas Raymond prevented a shutout in the final minute and nearly scored again in the closing seconds but Flyers goalie Carter Hart made a pad save.
"How did that puck not go in?" Lalonde said. "Not only did he get a pad on it -- he flexed his pad to keep it out. That was pretty impressive by the Hart kid."
Detroit plays twice before the All-Star break in road games against the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders.
The Red Wings produced plenty of offense in their first meeting this season with the Sharks on Nov. 17. Detroit notched a 7-4 victory as seven different players scored. David Perron led the way with a goal and two assists.
The Sharks enter Tuesday's game seeking their first win in three chances at the start of an eight-game road stretch. They lost at Columbus 5-3 on Saturday and at Boston 4-0 on Sunday. Boston has defeated San Jose 11 consecutive times.
"No mystery why they have the record they have," Sharks coach David Quinn said of the Bruins. "Obviously, I didn't think we were on our game in a lot of areas."
San Jose managed just 18 shots on goal and committed four penalties.
"We didn't have a lot of energy," Quinn said.
The Sharks have lost 13 of their last 17 games, dropping four of those contests in overtime or shootouts. They travel to Carolina and Pittsburgh before the break, then resume the trip early next month with stops at Tampa Bay, Florida and Washington.
--Field Level Media