Blues-Red Wings Preview


The Detroit Red Wings have made good use of extra time in their most recent games, including a few that have kept their team-record home win streak going.

The league-leading Red Wings might have another considerable challenge to that 16-game run Monday night against the red-hot St. Louis Blues, who will try to take over the NHL's top spot with their first victory in three tries at Joe Louis Arena over the past month.

Detroit's home win streak is tied for the fourth-longest in NHL history and is four shy of matching the record held by the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers. The Red Wings, who have a league-best 65 points, have claimed six consecutive victories overall - one shy of matching their longest run this season Nov. 19-Dec. 2.

Detroit has gone beyond regulation to get five of those wins - four via shootouts and one in overtime. Valtteri Filppula scored in the fourth round of a shootout Saturday to help secure a 3-2 win over Columbus.

"We think we're going to win, which is a real nice thing to have," coach Mike Babcock said. "But we can play better than we have, no question about it. So we don't want to get into a rut playing like this, we want to play way better."

The Red Wings (32-15-1) might need to play better to beat the Blues (29-12-6), who are 8-0-1 in 2012 and trail Detroit by one point while sitting level with Chicago and the New York Rangers. Jaroslav Halak had his career-best scoreless streak end at 164 minutes, 38 seconds Saturday, but St. Louis matched a season high with a fourth straight win, 4-2 over visiting Buffalo.

"We can't win every game 1-0," said captain David Backes, who had two goals and two assists. "When (our goalies) only let in one or two goals, we have to make sure we have the offensive firepower to reward them."

The Blues have played just once on the road in their last nine games, a 3-0 win at Montreal on Jan. 10. They've split their four meetings with Detroit this season but lost twice at Joe Louis Arena last month.

Jimmy Howard made 31 saves in a 3-0 win Dec. 31 after Niklas Kronwall completed his team's rally from a two-goal deficit in a 3-2 victory four days earlier.

"There's no better place to test us than going to Detroit," St. Louis forward B.J. Crombeen said. "It's our last opportunity this year, and we want to make sure we do it right."

Halak hasn't faced Detroit this season, and it's unclear if he'll be in net for this game. He's often struggled versus the Red Wings and St. Louis faces Pittsburgh on Tuesday night in its final game before the All-Star break.

"I think we're playing better than the last time we were in Detroit," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how we do in the next two games."

Halak is 2-3-1 with a 4.35 GAA - his worst against any opponent - in six all-time matchups. However, he's on a personal-best seven-game win streak and has three shutouts over his last five.

The Blues' lone All-Star, Brian Elliott, has given up three goals in three of his last four games - two of those in Detroit. He's 2-3-0 with a 2.41 GAA in five all-time starts against the Red Wings.

Like Elliott, Howard has started all four games in the season series. He's won five straight against the Blues at home while allowing a combined nine goals.

St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is riding a career-best nine-game point streak but has just one assist in nine contests against Detroit.