Blues-Red Wings Preview
The Detroit Red Wings have won two straight at Joe Louis Arena only once this season. Thanks to a goal that shouldn't have counted, they're getting a chance to do it again.
The injury-riddled Red Wings look to build on a fortunate victory when they face the St. Louis Blues on Monday night in the first of two meetings between old rivals.
Detroit (21-17-10), among the NHL's worst with a 7-10-7 home record, won for just the second time in nine games there Saturday with a 3-2 shootout victory over Los Angeles.
The win came in bizarre fashion, however, after Niklas Kronwall's late shot was deflected up into the protective netting above the ice.
The puck bounced back over the glass, went off the back of goaltender Jonathan Quick and into the net with 26.1 seconds left in regulation. It wasn't reviewable because none of the officials whistled to stop play when the puck hit the net.
The lucky bounce has put the Red Wings in position to win back-to-back games in Detroit for the first time since Oct. 12-15.
"We got a good break and were rewarded for it," coach Mike Babcock told the team's official website. "You get breaks against you lots. We had a number called back this year and that was a break we got and if you work hard over time you get breaks."
The Red Wings certainly haven't had any luck with the injured list. They're expected to again be without as many as eight players due to injury, including Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) and Daniel Alfredsson (back).
The upcoming schedule isn't doing them any favors, either. After opening this five-game homestand with Saturday's odd win, Detroit faces a pair of former division rivals - St. Louis and Chicago - in a span of three days.
The Red Wings, Blues (32-10-5) and Blackhawks spent 31 years in the same division before realignment moved Detroit into the Eastern Conference before this season.
The Wings went 2-2-1 against St. Louis in their final season in the Central Division in 2012-13. Two of the losses, though, came in Detroit - including a 1-0 defeat April 7.
Jimmy Howard made 24 saves in that contest, and he's 7-2-1 with a 1.91 goals-against average in 10 career home matchups. He's 3-5-7 with a 2.63 GAA in 15 games there this season after making 30 saves and turning aside all three shootout attempts Saturday.
Howard has won two of his last three games, stopping a combined 121 shots.
The Blues have sputtered of late, losing three of four following a season-best seven-game winning streak.
St. Louis has failed to score more than twice in each of its past four games, giving up the opening goal in all three defeats, including Saturday's 3-2 loss to Anaheim.
"It's really just the same movie, different day," coach Ken Hitchcock told the team's official website. "We're going to have to figure out a way to fix it. ... We're going to have to have better starts. We're going to have to have more people engaged. We're going to have to play on our toes. Can't beat good teams playing on your heels."
The good news is that Alexander Steen has returned from an 11-game absence due to a concussion, though the left wing failed to get on the score sheet Saturday. He remains the team's leader with a career high-tying 24 goals, but he's mustered only four in 27 career meetings with Detroit.