Mathieu Schneider has played on six teams during his 18-year career, but he’s never experienced a scoring streak like the one he’s on now.
Schneider will try to extend the league’s longest points run this season to 13 games when the Detroit Red Wings (21-9-4) complete a home-and-home series with the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.
Schneider drew an assist on Nicklas Lidstrom’s goal late in the second period of a 3-1 win over the Wild (17-15-2) on Friday at Joe Louis Arena. The 37-year-old has two goals and 13 assists during his career-high points streak— the longest by a defenseman since Brian Leetch scored in 14 straight games for the New York Rangers from Nov. 2-Dec. 1, 1996.
Detroit has won four of its last five games to move within three points of Central Division-leading Nashville, and stands a good chance of narrowing that gap. The Red Wings have won four in a row in Minnesota and are 7-1-1 with two ties all-time on the road versus the Wild.
“It’s the first time this year that I’ve really felt tired after the game. They just kept coming,” said Hasek, who won his 18th game this season and lowered his league-leading goals-against average to 1.84.
The six-time Vezina Trophy winner is 6-0-0 with two ties, two shutouts and a 1.10 GAA in his career against Minnesota.
Manny Fernandez finished with 22 saves, but again failed to win on the road in regulation for the first time since Oct. 21, a span of nine games including eight starts. He failed to stop Cleary’s one-timer off a flubbed pass.
“They’re a team if you turn it over and make a bad play like that they’ll be all over you,” said Fernandez. “That set the tone. Right there it seemed like it took our wind right out and changed the momentum of the game.”
Cleary has three goals in his last two games and needs one more tally for a new career high. He had 14 in 81 games with Edmonton in 2000-01.
Stephane Veilleux scored for Minnesota, which dropped to 0-7-1 in its last eight road games, but he is not expected to play in this game. Veilleux left late in the second period after being struck in the face with a puck.
“Don’t count on him for a while. His nose was right here,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said, pointing to the side of his face.
While they have been unable to generate much success on the road recently, the Wild remain one of the league’s best teams on home ice. Minnesota has won four in a row at the Xcel Energy Center, giving the Wild 13 wins in 17 games there this season.
The teams will meet for the third time in five days on Wednesday in Detroit to close out their season series.
“I don’t think I need these two games to know them well,” Lemaire told the Wild’s official Web site.