Milestones mark Wings’ 19th home W in row

DETROIT — On the night when Tomas Holmstrom
played in his 1,000th career game, the Red Wings needed to channel their inner
Homer to push their record home win streak to 19 games, one shy of the league
record, with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

Coach Mike Babcock started Holmstrom on Henrik Zetterberg’s line with Valtteri
Filppula and Holmstrom became the sixth player in team history to reach the
1,000-game mark, joining Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Nick Lidstrom, Steve
Yzerman and Kris Draper.

“I’m honored to break a thousand games with the Red Wings,” Holmstrom
said. “Fifteen years to get to 1,000. It’s been a fun run. It’s not over
yet. I’m blessed to be in Detroit, fortunate to have such good fans.”

Holmstrom is also fortunate to have played all 1,000 with Lidstrom, his closest
friend on the team.

“I think it’s a great accomplishment, especially all the injuries that
he’s been through,” Lidstrom said of his good friend. “I think it
just shows about his will and determination that he’s not a quitter, he’s not
gonna give up, he’s gonna battle until someone kicks him out of here, I
think.”

It was also a milestone night for Lidstrom, who played in his 1,549th game as a
Red Wing, tying him with Delvecchio for second on the franchise list. Howe is
first with 1,687 games.

Delvecchio not only attended the game, he came down to the dressing room to see
Lidstrom and take a picture with Holmstrom.

“It means a lot, especially him coming down after I’m tying his games
played record, and coming down and taking a picture with me and chatting a
little bit,” Lidstrom said. “I’m proud to reach that milestone. I was
very happy to see him come down and congratulate me, too.”

As exciting as all the milestones were Friday night, it was not the prettiest
of games for the Wings, who were facing an Anaheim Ducks team that is trying to
stay in the playoff hunt.

Until Wednesday night, goaltender Jimmy Howard had been in net for the first 17
games of the home winning streak. Since Howard broke his right index finger,
the streak has rested in Joey MacDonald’s hands.

MacDonald has spent most of the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, but has
quickly supplanted Ty Conklin as Howard’s backup.

So naturally with the backup in and the streak on the line, the Wings put the
Ducks on the power play six times. But the Wings’ penalty kill was up to the
task.

“We did a great job,” MacDonald said. “They threw a lot of pucks
at the net, but I [saw] a lot of them and kept quite a few of them to the
outside. Like I said, any of the other rebounds we got them down 200 feet and
that’s why defensively we were pretty good tonight.”

Babcock was not thrilled with the way his team played, but he seemed pleased
with MacDonald.

“I thought his game tonight was the best,” Babcock said. “We
haven’t needed him like we did tonight. But I thought today he was big and
square and out and confident. He looked like a real goaltender for us. So
that’s real positive for us. These are big points you’re getting. He was going
against real good shooters and held his ground.”

Ducks tough guy George Parros scored his first goal in 84 games and Detroit’s Justin
Abdelkader tipped Jakub Kindl’s shot past Jonas Hiller for the only goals in
regulation.

Overtime featured more power plays for each team, but no goals.

So MacDonald and the Wings had to go to a shootout to preserve the streak.

Pavel Datsyuk started the Wings off on the right foot by scoring first. Then Anaheim’s
Teemu Selanne evened it up.

Second round: Detroit’s Jiri Hudler missed the net, while MacDonald saved Corey
Perry’s attempt for Anaheim.

Then Detroit’s Todd Bertuzzi delivered one of his slow, curling
lull-the-goalie-to-sleep shootout goals, giving MacDonald a chance to win with
a save against Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan.

“I had a different one going into it,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s kind
of a little weird on that one because (Hiller) is an off-hand shot. I went
wide, I think, three in a row, so I thought I would go down the middle and try
to slow it down, or whatever. I thought I would try to wait him out and maybe
snap it five-hole because he gets back in his paint, so I just tried to be
patient with it.”

MacDonald was thrilled when he made the stop on Ryan, ending the agony.

“Of course it does,” MacDonald said about the streak coming to mind
in the shootout. “Eighteen straight and you’re in a shootout and you know
you have three shooters. We scored. Pav got a nice one and when Bert got that
one, it put a little more pressure on me. I didn’t want to go into any extra
shooters. I just tried to stay out and stay big and made the save.”

So just as Holmstrom hasn’t quit despite injuries, a lack of speed and
opponents’ abuse, the Wings followed his example of resilience.

“It seems like it doesn’t matter what happened in the game, we can battle
back with confidence at home,” Holmstrom said. “It’s real good to
have going into playoffs.”

Now the Wings will have to beat the last team to win 20 consecutive at home,
the Philadelphia Flyers, on Sunday night to keep the streak going.

“It’s fun that we’re going to have Philly in here,” Babcock said.
“We’ll have a good skate (Saturday) and (try to) tie that record. I
haven’t even thought about that record until now, so we might as well tie it,
with Philly coming in here.”

Note: The bridge of Holmstrom’s nose was cut and bloodied when Parros
went to the net and got his stick up in Holmstrom’s face as Parros pushed
Holmstrom into MacDonald.

In an ironic twist, Parros was called for interfering with Holmstrom.

“I felt something pop, so they’re probably going to X-ray it,”
Holmstrom said, unsure of whether his nose was broken.