The Red Wings will seek a seventh straight victory when they visit the struggling and injury-plagued Sabres.
Detroit (15-7-1) has won 17 of 21 matchups with Buffalo dating back to the 1995-96 season and enter this one on a season-high six-game winning streak after beating Tampa Bay 4-2 on Wednesday.
Tomas Holmstrom(notes) and Darren Helm(notes) each scored in the third period for the Red Wings, who have outscored opponents 23-11 during their streak. Detroit’s only win by fewer than two goals over the last six games was a 3-2 shootout victory in Boston - the Bruins’ only loss in November - last Friday.
“I think we’ve done a lot of good things,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re playing with more tempo.”
The Red Wings are seeking their first seven-game win streak since March 20-April 1, 2010, and will try to accomplish that against a Sabres team that’s 1-3-1 in its last five.
Buffalo (13-10-1) is missing forwards Brad Boyes(notes) (right leg), Patrick Kaleta(notes) (groin), Tyler Ennis(notes) (ankle) and Cody McCormick(notes) (upper body). Defensemen Jordan Leopold(notes) (upper body), Mike Weber(notes) (upper body) and Tyler Myers(notes) (wrist) are also out.
The good news on Buffalo’s injury front is that goaltender Ryan Miller(notes) will dress Friday for the first time since Nov. 12, when he suffered a concussion after being run over by Boston’s Milan Lucic(notes) during a 6-2 loss. The former Michigan State star, who returned to practice Wednesday, is expected to back up Jhonas Enroth(notes) against Detroit but could start Saturday in Nashville.
Miller is 5-6-0 with a 2.86 goals-against average in 11 games this season.
Enroth is 3-4-1 with a 2.71 GAA while starting every game in Miller’s absence and has never faced the Red Wings, who have won their last three on the road after losing five straight.
Pavel Datsyuk(notes), who has a team-best five goals and five assists during Detroit’s six-game run, has scored in each of his last two games against the Sabres. He started Detroit’s comeback from a two-goal deficit Feb. 26 in Buffalo with a power-play tally in the second period and got the puck past Miller again during the shootout in a 3-2 win.
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) has registered two goals and 20 assists in his last 23 games against the Sabres. Henrik Zetterberg(notes), who had a four-game point streak snapped Wednesday, has an assist each of the past five times he’s seen Buffalo.
Jimmy Howard(notes), who has started 16 consecutive games, made his only one against the Sabres during a 3-2 overtime win March 13, 2010. Detroit’s backup netminder is Ty Conklin(notes), who is 7-1-0 with a 1.49 GAA in eight meetings against the team he played for briefly in 2006-07.
The Red Wings have won four of five in Buffalo, scoring on the power play once in each visit.