The Detroit Red Wings began this season in an unusual position, looking up from the bottom in the Central Division.
With a season-high fourth straight win Wednesday night against the visiting Dallas Stars, the Red Wings will move a step closer to its accustomed spot atop the standings.
After finishing a win shy of its second straight Stanley Cup, Detroit opened this season with back-to-back losses to St. Louis in Sweden and was tied in last place with the Blues after five games.
Since then, the Red Wings (10-5-3) have slowly climbed their way out and are within three points of division-leading Chicago. Even better, Detroit’s offense has turned red-hot after a slow start, outscoring its opponents 19-6 during the win streak.
Henrik Zetterberg(notes) has led the way with nine points in that time to give him a team-leading 22. He recorded his fourth career hat trick and a career-high five points in Saturday’s 7-4 victory over visiting Anaheim.
Detroit scored an NHL-best 295 goals last season, but Marian Hossa(notes) and Tomas Kopecky(notes) signed with Chicago in the offseason. Vancouver also lured away Mikael Samuelsson(notes), and Jiri Hudler(notes) left for Russia.
Also, Johan Franzen(notes) (knee), Valtteri Filppula(notes) (wrist) and Jason Williams(notes) (leg) are on injured reserve, and Hart Trophy finalist Pavel Datsyuk(notes) had two goals in his first 13 games.
Datsyuk has scored twice in the last three games, but has been overshadowed by Zetterberg, who has scored seven of his eight goals over the last eight contests.
“He’s been playing really strong for us of late and he had some chances early,” said defenseman Niklas Kronwall(notes), who has three goals and four assists during the win streak. “He really came through when we needed him the most.”
The Red Wings, 7-0-1 at Joe Louis Arena this season, will try to earn their fifth straight win there against a Dallas team that’s dropped two of three on its four-game road trip.
Detroit hasn’t won five in a row at home since a season-high seven-game run from Dec. 18-Jan. 10.
While the Red Wings’ offense is getting back on track, Dallas has scored two goals in each game during a 2-3-1 stretch. The Stars’ last five games have been decided by one goal or in a shootout, and they fell 3-2 Saturday at Phoenix.
“Things seem to happen a lot easier when you get on a roll,” goaltender Marty Turco(notes) said. “You don’t feel like you’re grinding it and others get on a roll and carry a team. But that hasn’t been the case for us.”
Datsyuk had a team-best six points against Dallas in 2008-09 with two goals and four assists.
The Stars faced Chris Osgood(notes) in two of those victories, but the Detroit netminder is expected to miss Wednesday’s contest with an illness. Jimmy Howard(notes) will likely start again and face Dallas for the first time since a 1-0 defeat on Feb. 17, 2008.