The Detroit Red Wings are wasting leads and giving away points to their Western Conference rivals. The Minnesota Wild took advantage of the Red Wings' giving tendencies to salvage a point less than a week ago.
Detroit will try to avoid a sixth loss in seven games Wednesday when it visits Minnesota.
The Red Wings (25-18-9) currently occupy the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, one point ahead of ninth-place Calgary. The 12th-place Wild (25-23-4) lurk five points back of Detroit in the tightly packed race.
The Wings haven't helped themselves lately, going 1-2-3 in their last six games despite holding the lead in all but one of those contests. They've blown leads in each of their last four games -- all against other teams in the West playoff chase.
"We have to find a way out of this. Playing a lot better in our own zone and bearing down when we have to," defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "It's not fun. It's disappointing when you're giving points away the way we have been. We know we need the points right now."
Detroit appeared to be shaking out of its funk Tuesday against Phoenix, taking a two-goal lead in the third period after Lidstrom scored twice. However, Jimmy Howard a pair of goals in the final 1:30 of regulation, then yielded the game-winner to Shane Doan at 3:50 of overtime as the Red Wings fell 5-4.
"We thought we'd done a pretty good job. A 4-2 lead with a couple minutes left," coach Mike Babcock said. "Anyway you look at it it's a tough loss for us. We were in a situation for us to get two points and them to get none. Then they end up with two and we get one and it doesn't help build any confidence either."
The Red Wings were able to salvage the extra point at Minnesota last Thursday, winning 4-3 in a shootout. However, they held a two-goal lead midway through the third period before Martin Havlat and Andrew Brunette beat Howard one minute apart to force overtime.
Detroit is 12-1-2 in its last 15 games against the Wild, including an 8-1-1 mark at Xcel Energy Center.
Howard, who will likely be in net again, has split two games at Minnesota with a 3.40 goals-against average.
The Wild will try to take advantage of the reeling Red Wings after beating Columbus 4-2 on Saturday to snap a four-game slide. It was only the third time in 11 games this month that Minnesota scored first, and just the second time in 14 contests that the Wild held a lead after the opening period.
"It was one of the best first periods we've had in a long time," said Niklas Backstrom, who made 22 saves. "It was just nice to get the lead. But it was one good first period, now we have to make sure we keep doing it.
"The only thing that matters is to get the two points and get the win."
Mikko Koivu had two goals Saturday, increasing his team-high totals to 16 goals and 47 points. The center is four goals shy of his career high of 20, set in 2006-07 and matched last season.