Even when the Detroit Red Wings aren’t at their best, they are still better than most teams in the NHL.
The Red Wings look to match a season high with a ninth straight victory, while trying to continue their home dominance over the surging Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
Detroit (41-10-4) is four points shy of 90 after a stunning 3-2 overtime win at Minnesota on Tuesday night.
Trailing 2-1, Detroit’s Dan Cleary snapped a five-game scoreless streak when he tied the game with 1:20 left in regulation. He later assisted on Brett Lebda’s winner 1:37 into overtime.
“We weren’t Red Wing-like, in my opinion, for the first two periods,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, whose team won nine straight from Oct. 18-Nov. 9. “We’re a better hockey team than that.”
Few teams have been better this season than the Red Wings, who have outscored their opponents 25-11 during their current winning run.
Dominik Hasek made 24 saves Tuesday and is 5-0-0 with a 1.57 goals-against average during the Detroit’s streak.
“We know we didn’t have our stuff (Tuesday),” said Lebda, who has just three goals and nine assists. “We didn’t have the jump we normally have, but that’s why we have Dom back there.”
Though Hasek has played well, Babcock is likely to start All-Star Chris Osgood on Thursday as he continues to alternate between the two.
Osgood, who is 22-3-2 with a 1.84 GAA, is 3-0-0 with 1.00 GAA during the streak. He recorded his third shutout of the season in a 3-0 win at Los Angeles on Jan. 22 in the teams’ last meeting.
Osgood is 2-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA and .982 save percentage against Los Angeles in 2007-08.
The Red Wings look to sweep the season series from the Kings (22-30-3), whose 47 points are the fewest in the NHL, for the third time in four seasons.
Detroit, which has outscored Los Angeles 13-3 in three victories, has won four straight overall over the Kings. The Red Wings are also 11-0-0 with a tie at home against Los Angeles since a 3-2 loss on Feb. 18, 2000.
The Kings, who have lost 16 of their 17 overall against Detroit, won 4-2 over the New York Rangers on Tuesday to improve to 2-1-1 on their season-high eight-game road trip.
“Our record is not great, but the team is showing character and playing really hard now,” said Kopitar, who scored his career-high 21st goal and has two assists versus Detroit this season.
Jason LaBarbera made 39 saves Tuesday for the Kings and is 7-3-1 with a 2.77 GAA since losing three in a row. LaBarbera, however, is 0-3-1 with a 4.51 GAA versus Detroit.