Red Wings-Stars Preview

The Associated Press

Immediately after breaking the franchise record for consecutive home wins, the Detroit Red Wings were looking ahead to the Dallas Stars and improving their play on the road.

The Red Wings have an opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the Central Division Tuesday night when they visit the Stars.

Detroit had no trouble winning its 15th straight home game Monday, scoring three first-period goals in a 5-0 rout of struggling Buffalo. Todd Bertuzzi had a goal and two assists in support of Jimmy Howard, who made 27 saves for his fifth shutout of the season.

The Red Wings (29-15-1) have won three straight and eight of 11 to move within one point of St. Louis and Chicago for the lead in the Central, but they weren't allowing themselves much time for celebration with seven of the next nine games coming on the road.

"We have to start thinking about Dallas," Howard said. "We haven't done as well as we want on the road."

Detroit is 11-13-0 on the road, losing five of eight. The Red Wings have given up 26 goals in those eight games while they've allowed 21 in their last 15 at home.

"It's good how we play at home, but we need to be the same way on the road," Pavel Datsyuk, who had three assists Monday, said. "We've struggled a little bit, but every game is better and better and now we've got another test."

Datsyuk enters the road trip on a seven-game point streak. He has 10 assists during that stretch, including one in a 5-4 victory at Dallas on Jan. 3.

The Red Wings have won both meetings with the Stars this season, scoring five goals in each.

Like the rest of his teammates, Howard hasn't been nearly as good away from Detroit. He's 4-5-0 with a 2.92 goals-against average in his last nine road starts while compiling a 1.39 GAA in his last 15 home games - all wins.

Howard, however, may not have to be at his best against a Dallas (24-19-1) team that has lost three of four and is without two of its leading scorers.

After registering 22 shots on goal in a 2-1 loss to Colorado on Saturday, the Stars were just as anemic in a 1-0 loss at St. Louis on Monday, also recording 22 shots.

The Stars were without leading scorer Jamie Benn (appendectomy) and Mike Ribeiro (lower-body injury).

"We worked hard against a very good club,'' coach Glen Gulutzan said. ''We got into a position to have some success. We got it into a next goal win game and it just wasn't us that got it.''

Benn is expected to be out 10 to 14 days while Ribeiro, who had seven goals and five assists in 11 games before getting injured, could miss the next few weeks after a knee-on-knee collision with Edmonton's Theo Peckham on Jan. 7.

With two key contributors sidelined, Dallas will need more from Michael Ryder, who has no goals in six games after tallying eight in his previous eight contests.

"This will be a real good test and a challenge and our players are going to have to rise up to the occasion," Gulutzan told the Stars' official website.

Dallas has lost its last two home games against the Red Wings after winning the previous six.

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