Red Wings-Coyotes Preview

Thanks to the stellar play of Jonas Gustavsson, the Detroit Red
Wings haven’t missed a beat without their starting goalie.

Now they’ll likely have to overcome the loss of another key
defensive player to get their revenge on the Phoenix Coyotes.

While Jimmy Howard may return, the visiting Red Wings are
expected to be without Niklas Kronwall as they try to extend their
winning streak to five Saturday night against a Phoenix team that
dealt them their last loss.

Gustavsson continued his outstanding stretch while filling in
for Howard on Thursday when he stopped 38 of 40 shots in a 4-2
victory at Colorado that ended the hosts’ unbeaten start.

Since Howard went down with a bruised hand, Gustavsson has a
1.67 goals-against average and .953 save percentage while winning
each of his three starts.

Howard, however, might be able to get back between the pipes as
the Red Wings (6-2-0) go for their fifth straight win, which would
be their longest streak since a six-game run Feb. 8 – Feb. 19,
2012.

Howard, who hasn’t played since making 32 saves in a 5-2 win
over Philadelphia last Saturday, is 8-2-1 with a 2.24 GAA in 11
career starts in Phoenix – six of which have come in the
playoffs.

Detroit isn’t likely to have Kronwall (one goal, six points)
after he was hit from behind in the first period Thursday and left
on a stretcher. He was diagnosed with a mild concussion, but
reportedly stayed with the team as it flew to Phoenix.

”It was really scary,” fellow defenseman Jonathan Ericsson
said. “He was (knocked) out. He didn’t really know what happened
there. We found out pretty early he was fine and he was going to
recover fine.”

The Red Wings, who are fifth in the NHL with 2.25 goals allowed
per game, hope to continue their strong play defensively against a
Phoenix team that has scored five times on 69 shots in overtime and
shootout losses in its last two games.

The Coyotes (4-2-2) haven’t fallen in regulation since a 6-1
loss at the New York Islanders on Oct. 8, but they allowed Anaheim
to score the game-tying goal with 2:02 remaining Friday on the way
to a 3-2 shootout loss.

”We were scared to win. That is not how you finish off hockey
games,” goaltender Mike Smith said. ”We were solid up until the
third period, then we went out in the third and had six shots and
let them come. When you give that team the chances that we gave
them, sooner or later it’s going to get the back of the net.”

Mike Ribeiro, who signed a five-year deal in the offseason to be
Phoenix’s No. 1 center, was able to extend his points streak to
five games with an assist.

The Coyotes were the last team to beat Detroit on Oct. 10 when
Michael Stone and Antoine Vermette scored in the third period of a
4-2 win at Joe Louis Arena.

Smith had 28 saves in that meeting and 37 stops Friday, though
he could give way to backup Thomas Greiss in the second of
back-to-back games. In his only start, Greiss finished with 36
saves in a 2-1 win at Philadelphia on Oct. 11.

Whoever gets the nod will have to contain a Detroit team that
has totaled 14 goals while converting 6 of 16 power-play
opportunities during its winning streak.

Henrik Zetterberg has four goals and three assists during a
four-game point streak, while Pavel Datsyuk – who had two goals
against the Avalanche – has three scores and five assists over his
own four-game run.