The Blackhawks look to add to their lead Sunday afternoon when they visit Joe Louis Arena in search of their third straight win over the Red Wings.
Chicago (33-11-4) is tied with San Jose at 70 points in the race for its first Presidents’ Trophy since 1991. Within the Central, the Blackhawks have a nine-point lead on second-place Nashville and a 15-point advantage on the Red Wings, who have won eight consecutive division titles and 12 of 15 with a league-record six Presidents’ Trophies and four Stanley Cups in that span.
That puts Chicago on pace to supplant Detroit (24-16-7) in the division after getting eliminated by the Red Wings in last season’s Western Conference finals.
The Blackhawks are in such good position in large part because of their 11-3-0 record against division rivals Detroit, Nashville, St. Louis and Columbus. They’ve put together an eight-game winning streak within the division - including a pair of 3-0 wins over the Red Wings in December - while holding a 33-13 scoring advantage.
Chicago went 10-7-7 within the Central last season, finishing eight points behind the Wings.
The Blackhawks continued their dominance of their division rivals Saturday, using a three-goal third period with two goals from Jonathan Toews(notes) to beat the Blue Jackets 6-5 and sweep a home-and-home set after winning 3-0 in Chicago on Thursday.
“I think everybody got excited offensively,” coach Joel Quenneville said following Saturday’s win, which opened a season-high eight-game, 15-day road trip. “They had a lot of rush chances that first period and got some momentum off of that. Then the early goals in the second period put us back against it. But we had a good third period and we were dangerous on the rush ourselves.”
Toews is looking to build on his career high-tying three-point performance from Saturday after mustering only a goal in the previous four games. The center is second on the team with 16 goals, three back of leader Patrick Kane(notes).
Toews has three goals and one assist in nine games at Detroit, but he found the net in the last meeting Dec. 23, a 3-0 win at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings are hoping to put Saturday’s controversial 3-2 shootout loss to Dallas behind them. Coach Mike Babcock was furious with officials and visited their locker room after they ruled that the Stars’ attempt in the sixth round of the tiebreaker crossed the goal line before goaltender Jimmy Howard(notes) pulled the puck back.
“The video replay showed the puck didn’t go in the net,” Babcock said. “I thought that’s why we had video replay. The referee on the goal line called it (no good), but then they determined I guess that he was blocked out (by Howard) and the (second) referee (trailing the play) decided it went in the net.”
Todd Bertuzzi(notes) will try to help Detroit move past that defeat after snapping a personal eight-game goal drought against the Stars. The right wing has 13 goals, two fewer than team-leader Tomas Holmstrom(notes), who has missed four games with a broken foot and won’t return for another few weeks.
Bertuzzi has been held without a point in three meetings with Chicago since signing with Detroit in the offseason.