The Detroit Red Wings have won the Central Division title seven consecutive times, but the defending Stanley Cup champions find themselves in a position they’re unaccustomed to.
Looking to extend their surprising lead in the Central, the St. Louis Blues welcome Detroit to the Scottrade Center on Wednesday night.
The Blues (4-1-0) have finished last in the division in two of the last three seasons, but own a one-point lead over the Red Wings coming into this contest.
St. Louis rallied for a 4-3 shootout victory on Saturday over Chicago. The Blues trailed by two with 17 minutes remaining, but Keith Tkachuk got his sixth goal of the season and Andy McDonald scored his first goal of the season with 13.9 seconds left to tie the game.
In the shootout, rookie T.J. Oshie tallied the game-winner.
“We just stuck to it,” said McDonald, who scored his first goal of the season. “We had a lot of guys creating offense. We had a lot of chances. It’s just a matter of time for the puck to find its way in.”
Tkachuk extended his goal-scoring streak to five games. With his team-high eighth assist, Paul Kariya now has points in all five games this season.
Manny Legace also improved to 4-0-0 by stopping 23 shots and allowing just one goal in the Blackhawks’ four shootout attempts. Legace has won five straight games for the first time since the 2005-06 season when he had eight consecutive victories while playing for the Red Wings.
“I give a lot of credit to the boys.” Legace said. “They never gave up.”
Detroit (3-1-1) also rallied in the third period in its last game and earned its first home win of the season, 5-4 in overtime over the New York Rangers on Saturday. Marian Hossa, signed away from Cup runner-up Pittsburgh in the off-season, scored his first goal for his new team and the 300th of his NHL career 23 seconds into the extra period.
“I knew I was getting chances. I tried to stay calm on the ice, and off, too. there was no panic,” said Hossa, who also had an assist. “I knew the goals would come, and tonight I got the first one. Hopefully, now we can roll.”
Tomas Holmstrom also scored in his third straight game by recording his fifth goal of the season, and Mikael Samuelsson added his first goal and two assists. Chris Osgood improved to 2-1-1 by stopping 28 shots.
The two teams are among the league’s best on special teams. Red Wings have scored a power-play goal in three straight games, and they have killed off 13 consecutive penalties. Detroit has scored six times in 22 power-play opportunities and killed off 15 of 17 penalties.
The Blues have allowed opponents to score two power-play goals in 20 chances, and, despite getting shut out Saturday for the first time this season on the power play, St. Louis has converted on nine of its 22 chances.
Conn Smythe trophy winner Henrik Zetterberg could return to Detroit’s lineup after sitting out the last two games with a strained groin. Last season, Zetterberg led the Red Wings with 43 goals and 92 points. He had a goal and an assist in the team’s first three games.
The Red Wings beat the Blues 4-3-1 in last season’s series.