Sharks-Red Wings Preview

The Associated Press

The Detroit Red Wings already own the NHL's single-season record for consecutive home victories, and they're on the verge of breaking the nearly 82-year-old mark spanning multiple seasons.

In order to accomplish that, they'll have to knock off one of the few teams to walk out of Joe Louis Arena with a victory this season.

Detroit seeks its 23rd straight home win Sunday afternoon against the San Jose Sharks, who dealt the Red Wings their first home loss in October.

The league-leading Wings (40-17-2) haven't lost in the Motor City since falling 4-1 to Calgary on Nov. 3, the end of a three-game home skid that began with a 4-2 loss to San Jose six days earlier.

Detroit broke the single-season record with No. 21 in a row Tuesday against Dallas. The 1929-30 Boston Bruins followed their 20-game home streak with two victories the following season, a mark the Red Wings matched with a thrilling 2-1 win over Nashville on Friday.

Pavel Datsyuk deked Ryan Suter and scored with five seconds remaining after taking a pass from Henrik Zetterberg just over the blue line.

"Well, he comes with a lot of speed and the D is basically standing still, so you don't want any player coming down there, especially Pav,'' Zetterberg said. "And he makes a really good move and takes a really good shot, so he's a very nice player, a very skilled player.''

The assist marked the 600th career point for Zetterberg, who wasn't expected to play after suffering a lower-body injury against Dallas.

Detroit likely will need Zetterberg - he has four goals and six assists during a eight-game point streak versus the Sharks - on Sunday, as San Jose has won three straight and nine of the last 12 meetings including the postseason.

The Pacific Division-leading Sharks (31-18-7) won the most recent matchup 5-2 on Nov. 17 behind a goal and three assists from Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Captain Joe Thornton, who scored twice in the October meeting, added a goal and an assist.

Antti Niemi won each matchup, stopping 70 of 74 shots, though coach Todd McLellan sat him in Friday's 3-2 loss at Carolina. Niemi stopped only 19 of 25 shots he saw in a 6-5 overtime loss to Tampa Bay a night earlier, leading McLellan to say "he wasn't any good."

Thomas Greiss made 22 saves Friday, dropping to 4-1-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average in 2012.

"We'll have to sit down and determine who starts next,'' said McLellan, who was not pleased with the Sharks' effort as they dropped to 1-2-1 on a nine-game road trip.

"I thought we lacked a lot of energy and jump and determination in the first two periods. That desperation has to be there earlier.''

After it initially seemed like Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, who has been out since Feb. 2 with a broken finger, would return Sunday, coach Mike Babcock will give the All-Star a few extra days' rest and go with the red-hot Joey MacDonald.

MacDonald made 20 saves Friday and is 5-1-1 with a 1.61 GAA since Howard went down.

He'll have a tough task slowing Thornton, who has 11 goals and 16 assists while recording at least one point in 17 of the last 20 overall meetings with Detroit.

San Jose has won six of the last nine matchups, including the postseason, at Joe Louis Arena.

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