(Sports Network) - Thanks to a victory last time out, it will be up to the Detroit 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.
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