Boston hasn’t played Detroit since 2003-04, when it handed the Red Wings a rare home defeat. The Bruins may find it harder to pick up a win at Joe Louis Arena this time around.
The Red Wings, hoping to keep pace in the race for the NHL’s best record, look to extend a season-best 10-game point streak and continue their strong play at home when they face the last-place Bruins on Sunday.
Detroit (43-16-9) fell three points behind Central Division rival Nashville for the league’s best record when the Predators beat Columbus 2-1 on Saturday night.
The Red Wings, though, have a good chance to gain some ground on Nashville as they face the struggling Bruins (32-31-5) for the first time since a 2-1 overtime loss at Boston on Jan. 10, 2004. The Bruins also won 3-0 in Detroit three days before that contest, in a season when the Red Wings finished 30-7-0 with four ties at Joe Louis Arena.
Boston was one of the league’s better teams then, finishing 41-19-15 with seven ties. Now, though, the Bruins have lost three straight and are struggling to stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt while occupying last place in the Northeast Division - five points behind Montreal.
They also are facing a Red Wings team that is 7-0-3 since Feb. 14 and 16-0-2 at home since Dec. 20. Detroit’s overall point streak is its longest since going 17-0-3 in a 20-game run from March 9-April 17, 2006.
The Red Wings earned another win at home Friday night, beating Los Angeles 3-2 in overtime to improve to 25-3-5 at Joe Louis Arena. Mikael Samuelsson, playing his first game in six weeks after breaking a bone in his foot, scored 3:26 into overtime when he tipped in a pass from Pavel Datsyuk.
“You just have to always be ready for it when Pav has it,” Samuelsson said. “I know how talented he is. He’s more talented than me.”
Datsyuk has two goals and nine assists during a six-game point streak.
Henrik Zetterberg, who leads Detroit with 33 goals, has missed five straight games because of an inflamed disc in his back. His status for Sunday’s game is uncertain.
Dominik Hasek returned Friday after missing three games with tightness in his thigh, making 24 saves. He is 9-0-1 with a 2.07 goals-against average in his last 10 games.
Boston is coming off a loss to the league’s worst team, falling 4-1 to Philadelphia on Saturday. The Bruins, six points behind Carolina and Toronto for eighth place in the East, have lost six of their last eight.
“We just have to keep battling,” Boston goaltender Joey MacDonald said. “We’re working really hard. We’re just not getting the breaks.”
The Bruins failed on five power-play opportunities against the Flyers, and are 0-for-22 in their last five games.
“The power play is our Achilles’ heal right now,” Boston coach Dave Lewis said. “We don’t score and then we lost momentum. You try different things (to fix it), but sometimes it might be better to leave it alone.”