The Red Wings make their second visit to Long Island in more than seven years when they take on the resurgent Islanders on Tuesday night.
Detroit (23-15-6) has endured an injury-plagued season and sits in ninth place in the Western Conference. New York (19-19-8) is 10th in the East with 46 points - 15 shy of its league-worst total of 2008-09.
The Red Wings may have gotten their season back on track during a just-completed four-game western trip. Detroit won three of four, defeating San Jose 4-1 on Saturday in the finale.
“We know that the points are so crucial for us right now,” defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) said. “Every point is important. That’s one of the reasons we’re extra pleased with the way we finished the trip, beating one of the top teams in our conference.”
Although Detroit lost leading goal scorer Tomas Holmstrom(notes) for at least three weeks with a broken foot suffered in practice Wednesday, the Red Wings are getting healthier. Dan Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg(notes) were back for the last two games after missing time with separated shoulders.
Cleary scored in both victories.
“Obviously he’s a real good player for us,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We need to get him healthy and rolling. When Z and him get skating and playing like they can, we’ll be a lot better hockey club.”
The Red Wings have also been buoyed by Jimmy Howard(notes), who went 5-2-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average while starting the last eight games. Howard stopped 32 shots two nights after a spectacular 52-save effort in a 2-1 win over Los Angeles.
Detroit returned home after Saturday’s win before heading out on the road again. The Wings are in the midst of playing eight of 10 away from Joe Louis Arena.
“It’s hard to gain ground,” defenseman Brad Stuart(notes) said. “You have to keep winning. This was an important trip for us. We can go back feeling pretty good about it. But we can’t sit back and enjoy it too long because we’re right back out Tuesday.”
New York also enjoyed success on a western trip, beating Phoenix 5-4 in a shootout Saturday to take two of three. The Islanders went 6-2-1 in their last nine games.
“I don’t feel like I’m doing anything different (during the streak),” Bailey said. “More of the bounces have been going my way lately.”
The Islanders went 0-2-2 with a tie in their last five home games against the Red Wings since a 3-1 victory at Nassau Coliseum on Feb. 27, 1999. Detroit is visiting the Islanders for the first time since Jan. 30, 2007.