Both the Sabres and Red Wings are chasing their longest win streaks of the season, but it would seem Detroit has the advantage in that pursuit coming into Saturday’s game at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings seek their sixth straight victory while Buffalo aims for a fifth consecutive win when the teams meet for the first time this season.
Detroit (28-7-5) has again established itself as one of the league’s elite teams, going 8-1-1 in its last 10 games while also winning a season-high six in a row at home.
A red-hot offense has been the biggest catalyst behind the Red Wings’ recent success. They have scored 21 times in the last five games, matching a season high in goals in Thursday’s 6-1 victory over visiting Dallas.
Detroit, which averages a league-best 3.62 goals per game, has six players with 12 or more goals and 11 with at least 20 points, led by Pavel Datsyuk’s 47.
“I think that just shows how balanced this team is. Not many teams is like ours,” said right wing Marian Hossa, who has a team-leading 19 goals. “We know we’ve got lots of guys who can score. If we play well defensively, everybody, we’re going to get goals.”
Former Sabre Ty Conklin is expected to start in net for Detroit. Conklin has won three straight games and has shutouts in each of his last two indoor starts. He has stopped 92 of his last 96 shots faced with all four goals allowed coming in the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day.
Conklin, who appeared in five games for Buffalo in 2006-07, is 5-0-0 with a 1.18 goals-against average in five career starts versus the Sabres.
Additionally, Detroit has a decided edge in the recent series history and at Joe Louis.
The Red Wings are 13-1-1 with one tie against Buffalo (21-15-5) dating back to March 27, 1996, and are 8-0-1 in Detroit in that same span. However, Buffalo won the previous meeting at Joe Louis, a 3-2 shootout victory on Oct. 13, 2006.
As good as Detroit has played lately, getting the puck past Buffalo’s Ryan Miller won’t be easy.
Miller earned a fourth straight win in Friday’s 2-1 shootout victory over the New York Rangers, making a season-high 43 saves and stopping all three shootout attempts. During his win streak, the Sabres goalie has allowed six goals.
“Every night is going to be big,” said Miller, whose team plays nine of its next 10 on the road. “We’re just trying to keep something positive rolling here. We’ve had some really good hockey games where we’ve battled and competed.”
The Michigan native, however, hasn’t fared well against Detroit with a 1-3-0 record and a 4.22 GAA.
Derek Roy scored Buffalo’s lone goal in regulation Friday, and has four goals and four assists during the Sabres’ win streak. Recently named All-Star Thomas Vanek, tied for the league lead with 27 goals, also has a four-game point streak with two goals and four assists.
Detroit has won five consecutive games twice this season, but hasn’t won more than six in a row since a seven-game streak from Jan. 19-Feb. 5, 2008. The Red Wings last won seven straight home games as part of a 13-game run at Joe Louis from Dec. 20, 2006-Feb. 21, 2007.
Buffalo started the season 4-0-0 but hasn’t won five straight since Dec. 12-21, 2007.