The Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders enter the final weekend before the NHL All-Star break in the same position -- chasing the teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference wild-card race.
The task is growing as realistic for the Red Wings as it is becoming more difficult for the Islanders.
The Red Wings will look to end their first half with a third straight win while the Islanders will aim to snap a lengthy skid Friday night when the sides face off in Elmont, N.Y.
The Red Wings will be completing a back-to-back road set after edging the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in overtime on Thursday night. The Islanders fell for the sixth straight time Wednesday night, never leading during a 2-1 road loss to the Ottawa Senators.
Detroit squandered a trio of one-goal leads Thursday before Robby Fabbri scored 2:36 into overtime to give the Red Wings a much-needed extra point during a pivotal stretch leading into the break.
The Red Wings are 3-1-1 in their past five games -- all decided by one goal. Their lone regulation defeat in that span was a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday in which the Flyers snapped a scoreless tie with two goals less than five minutes apart in the third period.
Detroit, which hasn't made the playoffs since the last of its 25 straight postseason appearances in 2015-16, enters Friday seven points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins in the race for the final wild-card spot in the East.
"We're 3-1-1 in our last five, so a really good segment of seven of 10 points and we keep climbing," Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said Thursday night. "The guys wanted to play important games late in the season. Here we are before the All-Star break right in the middle of a bunch of teams and a team we're chasing in New York (on Friday)."
The chase has become an increasingly uphill one for the Islanders, who opened January in a three-way tie for the two wild-card spots in the East and just four points behind the second-place New Jersey Devils in the Metropolitan Division.
But New York has gone 0-4-2 in its past six games to fall to 2-8-3 this month. The Islanders enter Friday in 11th place in the East, six points behind the Penguins and just one point ahead of the Red Wings. Pittsburgh has two games in hand on New York while Detroit has three games in hand.
The culprit for the Islanders has been a nearly non-existent offense. They have been outscored 43-25 this month and have scored more than two goals in a game just once in their last 11 games -- a stretch in which they went 1-for-27 on the power play and didn't score a third-period goal.
"We're pressing and we can't find a goal when we need it right now," Islanders coach Lane Lambert said Wednesday night. "We've got to find a way."
After facing Detroit, the Islanders will play host to the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday before getting eight days off.
New York center Brock Nelson said, "Right now we're in a tough spot, but we have two games at home before the break. We want to go and get those two games. Give us a chance to reset and make a good push."
--Field Level Media