Wings chase 14th straight home win vs. Blackhawks
BLACKHAWKS (26-13-5) at RED WINGS (27-15-1)
TV: NBC (HD), TSN2
Chicago 5-4-1; Detroit 6-4-0
Each team has won one of the first two meetings, which were both held at Chicago's United Center. The Blackhawks won 3-2 on Dec. 30 on goals by Jonathan Toews
, Marian Hossa
and Brent Seabrook
, who scored the game-winner early in the third period. The Red Wings returned the favor with a 3-2 overtime win on Jan. 8, when Danny Cleary scored late in the third to tie it and Pavel Datsyuk scooped a loose puck to the right of the Chicago goal in OT and scored his 13th goal of the season.
Detroit is currently in third place of the Central Division behind both the Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues, but the bigger side story in this game will be the Red Wings' current home winning streak -- a span of 13 games which started with a 5-0 win on Nov. 5 against the Anaheim Ducks. That win snapped a six-game losing streak for Detroit, which is partly responsible for why they're not on top of the Central Division currently.
The other reason for that is an unsavory road record of 11-13-0 -- which is the stark opposite of the Wings' stellar 16-2-1 mark at Joe Louis Arena. Chicago brings a 10-8-1 road mark into Motown and will aim to prevent its Original Six rival from bumping its home win streak to 14 games -- which would match Detroit's franchise record set in 1964-65. Saturday's game will also kick off NBC's Game of the Week telecasts.
After going winless in four straight, the Hawks have won two in a row -- both at the United Center, against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday and Minnesota Wild on Thursday. Chicago prevailed by a score of 5-2 in both games, which were the first two the Hawks played after star forward Patrick Sharp
(20 goals, 40 points) got injured in the first period against Detroit last Sunday. The Hawks are also without forward Daniel Carcillo
(suspended), who might be out much longer if an apparent lower-body injury requires surgery. The good news is that rookie center Marcus Kruger
(concussion) has been activated off injured reserve, while fellow rookies Andrew Shaw
and Jimmy Hayes
continue to make a splash in their NHL debuts.
"Afternoon game in Detroit, you don't have to say too much," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had two games here, now we go into their building. They play well at home. We know the importance and the meaning of it. You look at the standings in our division. It's tight.
It's meaningful. (There's) a lot of implications at the end of the season, where you're at."
Jimmy Howard started for the first time after getting a couple of games off and picked up his 100th career win on Thursday in a 3-2 victory earned in a shootout highlighted by Henrik Zetterberg's pretty move to beat Coyotes goalie Mike Smith. It was also Howard's NHL-best 25th win of the season on the same day that he and Datsyuk were named as the Wings' All-Star Game representatives. Datsyuk also came up big against Phoenix by threading a perfect pass through traffic to Johan Franzen for the game-tying goal midway through the third period. Datsyuk had missed the previous game, another road loss, against the New York Islanders with a lower-body injury that happened shortly before he beat the Hawks in overtime last Sunday.
"The Central here is very tight at the top between us, St. Louis and Chicago," Howard said. "Points are at a premium, so every single night we've got to find a way to get them. Every single night, it's tough to win."
Chicago's Viktor Stalberg
scored his first career hat trick on Tuesday against Columbus and added a fourth goal in two games against Minnesota on Friday, while Hawks center Dave Bolland
also scored in both games. Datsyuk has tallied points in nine of the past 10 games he's played for Detroit.
The Blackhawks' Sharp (upper body, hand/wrist) is on injured reserve for up to three more weeks and Carcillo might need surgery for an undisclosed apparent lower body injury. … The Red Wings' Todd Bertuzzi (back/groin) will be a game-time decision and Patrick Eaves (fractured jaw) is on injured reserve.
Hossa has recorded at least a point in 31 of Chicago's 44 games, while Datsyuk has tallied at least a point in 30 of the 42 games he's played for the Red Wings this season.
Zetterberg's highlight-reel shootout move was the talk of the Wings' locker room after he used it to beat the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night. After faking to his left, he beat Mike Smith to the right using just one hand -- a move made famous by former Swedish superstar Peter Forsberg
"I don't get a chance (in shootouts) that often anymore," Zetterberg told Mlive.com's Ansar Khan. "When I get it, might as well try something fun. It's for the fans. If I missed that, I look kind of stupid. It was a gamble, but it worked."