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Capitals Vs. Red Wings: Washington Plays Western Conference Contenders

Both Washington and Detroit have been struggling as of late. Who can break their slump in Detroit Monday night?

The Washington Capitals have lost two games in a row entering their game with the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night. Those two losses to the Winnipeg Jets and the Chicago Blackhawks have dropped the Capitals five points behind Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers and only 2 points ahead of ninth-place Winnipeg and Buffalo Sabres for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Red Wings have been slumping as well, losing six of their last seven games. However, Detroit has dominated at Joe Louis Arena against the Capitals, winning 10 of their last 12 games there, including two victories in the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals. Pavel Datsyuk has provided a spark in the last two games for the Red Wings after returning from knee surgery and looks to help the Red Wings get back on track to winning home ice for the playoffs with 10 games remaining.

However, the Red Wings will be without three key players tonight, as Nicklas Lidstrom will miss his 10th straight game with a bruised ankle. In addition, Darren Helm and Johan Franzen will miss tonight's game with lower-body and back injuries, respectively.

The Capitals, on the other hand, don't know which goaltender will start for them on Monday. Michal Neuvirth started Sunday's game against Chicago, making 24 saves, while Tomas Vokoun has been nursing a lower-body injury, so his status is up in the air for Monday's game. Alex Ovechkin has notched at least one point in each of the seven games he has played against Detroit in his career.

For more on the Capitals, visit Japers' Rink. For the latest on the Red Wings, visit Winging It In Motown. For the latest news, notes, and analysis from around the NHL, visit SB Nation's NHL hub.