A comeback win over the rival Chicago Blackhawks last weekend was undoubtedly satisfying for the Detroit Red Wings and their fans. Earning another victory over the Blackhawks this weekend might be even sweeter.
The Red Wings look to tie a team record with their 14th consecutive home victory while ending Chicago's five-game win streak at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.
Detroit (27-15-1) split a recent four-game road trip, though one of the highlights was a 3-2 overtime win over Chicago on Sunday. The Red Wings gave up two goals in the first 4:19, but Pavel Datsyuk gave his team the victory by banking in a shot off Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy.
Datsyuk missed the final game of the trip, a 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday, with a lower-body injury but was back in the lineup for Detroit's return home two days later. He assisted on Johan Franzen's tying goal in the third period and was one of two Wings to score in the shootout during a 3-2 victory over Phoenix.
"We weren't special at home last year but we are this year," said coach Mike Babcock, who earned his 400th win in his 699th game. "We seem to be real comfortable here."
The Red Wings haven't won 14 in a row at home since Jan. 21-March 25, 1965, but they'll be facing a team that's had plenty of success on their ice. The Blackhawks (26-13-5) have outscored Detroit 17-8 during their run at Joe Louis and come in having earned back-to-back wins following a season-high four-game skid.
Those victories have also come since forward Patrick Sharp, who has 20 goals and 20 assists, suffered an upper-body injury that's expected to keep him out three to four weeks. Despite Sharp's absence, Chicago has regained the Central Division lead with 57 points, one more than St. Louis and two more than Detroit.
Blackhawks All-Stars Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane combined for only two assists in the latest victory, 5-2 over Minnesota on Thursday. Dave Bolland, though, continued his resurgence with two goals and an assist, giving him four and two over the last three games to match his point total over his previous 17.
"Right now we're rolling, and it's a good thing," Bolland said. "Things are working in the offensive zone, and we're getting quick outs (from the defensive zone)."
The center has three goals and two assists in his last six games against the Red Wings, but Hossa has been even better with an eight-game point streak in which he has three goals and eight assists. Defenseman Brent Seabrook has scored in four of the past five matchups.
Chicago will be a little healthier for this game with forward Marcus Kruger activated from injured reserve Friday.
Detroit's Jimmy Howard is 0-3-1 with a 3.45 goals-against average against Chicago at Joe Louis and 3-5-1 with a 3.20 GAA versus the Blackhawks overall.
Backup Ty Conklin has gone 2-0-1 with a 1.98 GAA in his past four appearances in the series after earning the win Sunday.
The Blackhawks may have Corey Crawford in net after Ray Emery started Thursday. Crawford is 5-2-1 with a 2.12 GAA in eight career meetings with Detroit and 3-1-0 with a 1.75 GAA in four games at Detroit.
Emery has won both career starts against Detroit, the most recent victory coming by a 3-2 score Jan. 12, 2008, for Ottawa.