The Detroit Red Wings are battling for their playoff lives with just four games left in the 2023-24 regular-season, and they'll play at least the first contest without Andrew Copp after the forward broke his cheekbone in the third period of Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals, according to

Copp sustained the injury on an errant high stick from Caps forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel in the third period of the defeat, and was visibly shaken up before leaving the game and not returning.

Andrew Copp out for crucial tilt with Penguins

 Detroit Red Wings center Andrew Copp (18) is checked on after get injured in the third period against the Washington Capitals at Little Caesars Arena
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In order to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016, the Red Wings will almost certainly need to win all of their last four — and get some help.

That begins in the most critical matchup of the season at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh against Crosby and the Penguins on Thursday night. Copp will be out for that one, and has no timetable for return beyond that, per

The 29-year-old has been decent if unspectacular in Motown this year, amassing 13 goals and 33 points over 77 games. “Copp, who has been centering the checking line and killing penalties, will be replaced by Zach Aston-Reese, who will play on the fourth line,” wrote, adding “Joe Veleno will move into Copp's spot on the third line.”

Red Wings still alive but fading in playoff race

Despite losing six of their last eight games, Detroit remains in the thick of a wild Eastern Conference playoff race. At 38-32-8, the Red Wings are tied with the Penguins and a single point back of the Capitals for the second wild card berth in the conference.

With no chance of catching either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division, the best result that can be hoped for in Michigan at this point is the final wild card.

That would likely set them up for a first round matchup against either the Boston Bruins or New York Rangers. But even getting in is not looking good at this point, especially the way the team is playing.

After Thursday's critical tilt in Pennsylvania — which is virtually a must-win if Detroit hopes to break the playoff drought — the Red Wings will remain on the road and head north to Toronto to play the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday.

It'll then be back-to-back matchups with the Montreal Canadiens — the basement dwellers of the Atlantic — in a home-and-home to end the regular-season. The hope is that Andrew Copp will be able to return to the lineup on Saturday in Toronto, but his status has only been confirmed for Thursday.

If the Wings can find a way to get back into the dance for the first time in eight years, they'll have an opportunity to win a playoff round, something that hasn't been done in Motown since 2013.

Puck drop between Detroit and Pittsburgh is set for just past 7 p.m ET from PPG Paints.