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.