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Detroit — The Red Wings have plenty to be thankful for at this time of year.

From a hockey perspective, the Red Wings are in fourth in the Eastern Conference with little more than half the schedule remaining.

It's helped the Red Wings (41 points) have made it a habit of earning points — they collected at least one in 13 consecutive games — while the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens have struggled (1-9 run).

The Canadiens hold the slimmest of leads in the East over the Bruins and Panthers (43-42 points), followed by the Red Wings (41) and then the Senators (40).

The defending East champion Lightning has 37 points.

And with nine of the next 10 games on the road, the Red Wings understand they're at a crucial point in the schedule.

"We know the standings," Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith said. "We know (the Canadiens) kind of been struggling, but they're still first in the division.

"We want to win these games, and maybe that can help us move into that position (leading the division) but we're not really paying too much attention to what they're doing. We're just worrying more or less what we have to do to be first in the division."

Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Devils was the second game in the last 17 the Red Wings didn't earn at least one point.

Some analysts, however, believe the Red Wings have let too many points slip away — 9-2-6 record during that 17-game point stretch.

The Red Wings don't think so.

"We probably stole a few, too, during that stretch," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "The thing we know is if we keep playing like we did (Tuesday), we'll get points and we'll be fine."

Screen presence

Riley Sheahan's third-period goal Tuesday, a blast off the rush, was an indication of what he can do offensively.

And while his offense hasn't always been there this season (eight points, four goals), Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill believes there are other areas Sheahan can prvide some production.

"He has a huge impact on the game is net-front presence," Blashill said of the 6-foot-3 forward. "He's been great. You think back to the (Gustav) Nyquist goal the other night. Sheahan had great net-front presence. He does contribute offensively even when he's not necessarily pointing.

"A guy like him doesn't need to get tons of points to have a great impact on the game because he's such a good two-way player and he's such a load in the offensive zone and such a net-front presence."

Ready to serve

Goaltender Petr Mrazek wasn't expecting to play Tuesday, but after Jimmy Howard allowed three goals on the first six Devils shots, in came Mrazek, who stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced.

"That's how the second goalie is, you have to be ready," Mrazek said. "You never know what can happen."

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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