The Pittsburgh Penguins will look to get back on the winning track Friday when the Detroit Red Wings visit.
Pittsburgh had its six-game winning streak halted -- but extended its point streak to seven games -- on Thursday in a 2-1 overtime home loss against the expansion Seattle Kraken.
The RedWings are chasing a playoff spot, while the Penguins are on a 17-2-1 run to tie for the top point total in the Metropolitan Division, but Pittsburgh got reminded Thursday that no opponent is a pushover.
"We've been playing some risky hockey for a while and coming out on top for the majority of the games," Penguins center Jeff Carter said. "There's been talk about cleaning our game up and playing the right way and managing the puck, and I think (Thursday) maybe it caught up to us a little bit. Get back at it (Friday) and get to work."
It seems likely that Pittsburgh will go with backup goalie Casey DeSmith against the Red Wings, which could be cause for some concern.
The Penguins have been leaning heavily on No. 1 goaltender Tristan Jarry, who stopped 27 of 29 shots Thursday after picking up wins in his previous five appearances. He is having one of the top seasons in the league, while DeSmith has struggled with a 3-3-1 record, a 3.58 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage in just nine appearances.
"Right now it's his own mindset and his confidence in his ability to play," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of DeSmith. "These guys are all professional athletes. They're proud guys. They're also human. And when things don't do right, players get affected.
"Our job as a coaching staff is to help them through that process."
In his most recent outing, Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets in his first game after coming out of COVID-19 protocol, DeSmith got pulled after the first period, having given up two goals on 12 shots. Jarry took over even though he had played the previous night.
The Friday night game will be the first of three meetings this season between the Penguins and the Red Wings.
Detroit has lost three straight (0-2-1) overall and seven of nine (2-4-3) but has a rest advantage. The Red Wings were off Thursday while the Penguins played.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill thought there were some lessons to heeded from his team's wild 8-5 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.
Detroit fell behind 4-0 in the first period, roared back to within a goal in the second but then allowed two early goals in the third. While the tenacious but short-lived comeback might have been something to key on, Blashill saw a bigger picture.
"When you're not on your game and you're competitive and trying to get back into it and force your way into it, that's not the way it works," he said. "You can't force things. In the end, you have to take what is given, and that's the reality of it.
"If we want to take steps as a team as we go through this second half of the season, we have to manage it way better than that."
The eight goals against were a season high, and the Red Wings have allowed 17 over their past three games, not exactly a testament to solid defense.
"We have to shore things up back there and take care of the puck," Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser said.
--Field Level Media