Last 10: Dallas 4-5-1; Detroit 7-2-1
Season series: This will be the fourth meeting of the season between these Western Conference teams, with the Red Wings winning each of the first three. Detroit won 5-2 on Nov. 12 at Joe Louis Arena -- way back when Detroit’s home winning streak was just three games old -- and then took the next two games in Dallas. The Wings prevailed 5-4 on Jan. 3 by taking a 3-1 lead after the first period and hanging on to snuff out a Stars' comeback attempt, then winning 3-2 in a shootout decided by Jiri Hudler's goal on Jan. 17 at American Airlines Center.
Big story: Both teams are on a quest for the two points as the season wears on and each is locked in a tight standings battle in the Western Conference. However, it's impossible to ignore the obvious. Detroit has won an NHL record 20 straight games at Joe Louis Arena this season, which ties the Red Wings with the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers. Now the Wings get a chance to capture the longest home winning streak in League history all for themselves -- even though they're doing their best to downplay the streak. Detroit, however, hasn't lost at home since the Calgary Flames beat them on Nov. 3 at Joe Louis Arena to extend a Wings' winless streak to six games. Detroit already holds the NHL's all-time mark for consecutive road wins (12), but the Wings maintain the two points that would come from a victory against the Stars means more to them -- at least, at this point.
"We've had a pretty good run, but we haven't seemed to put any distance between ourselves and anybody [else]," Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart said after Monday's practice. "The pressure's on every night to win. There is no lack of motivation for every game, and that's a good thing. The last couple of weeks you start to realize just what kind of run we're on and it's kind of surreal. We don't talk about it. We just focus on winning games, because that's what other teams are doing."
Stars: Dallas is on a quest to end a disturbing trend that's seen the Stars post sub-.500 records after the All-Star break in three of the past four seasons. They're 3-2-1 since the break this year, after dropping a 4-2 game on Sunday to the Los Angeles Kings at American Airlines Center. Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson scored the goals, with Eriksson tying Ulf Dahlen for most goals by a Swedish-born player in team history (130). Ryder's goal was his team-leading 21st of the season and he's tallied points in five straight games (2 goals and 5 assists). Still, the Stars will be without injured star forward Brenden Morrow and veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray -- two key injuries.
"I've seen what Detroit does well at The Joe, so we've got to come in there and play a real hard-working game against them," coach Glen Gulutzan said on Monday. "They've got a lot of skill and they play a real hard-working game, as well. We're going to have to be real smart with our puck management against that group."
Red Wings: Sunday night's 4-3 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers earned Detroit yet another record to tout in a long stack of accomplishments for the franchise, but more importantly for this season is the fact the Wings looked pretty good doing it. They were faster, dominated the puck for long stretches and responded to falling behind by a goal twice in the second period with counter-tallies. Henrik Zetterberg is starting to play more like the guy people got used to as a star in years past and the team's defense remains a big factor in these home wins at both ends of the rink.
"We're proud of the streak we're on right now," Zetterberg said. "It's not easy to win 20 games in a row at home. Teams don't want to lose when they come to Joe Louis, and we're used to that. When you have a streak like this, you kind of want to be the team coming in and breaking it. We're going to have a hungry Dallas team coming in [here]."
Who's hot: Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski has recorded points in three straight games and has a point in six of the eight games he's played since Jan. 23, when he signed a four-year contract extension. … Zetterberg has 2 goals and 6 assists in the past five games for Detroit, including a 3-assist game and a 2-assist game.
Injury report: Morrow (upper body) is out indefinitely, while Souray (bone bruise, foot) is day to day for the Stars. … Patrick Eaves (concussion symptoms) is out indefinitely, while Jimmy Howard (broken finger) and Danny Cleary (knee) are out for at least this game.
Stat pack: Dallas has the NHL's fourth-best record in one-goal games at 13-7-3. … Detroit is allowing 2.3 goals a game overall, but just 1.5 a game during the Wings' 20-game home winning streak.
Puck drop: The Red Wings might not be focusing on their home-winning streak, but they're also not standing idly by when people suggest to them their current NHL record doesn't mean as much historically as the 20-game streaks by the teams they're now tied with -- simply because there are no ties anymore.
"You still have to win the games," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "You still have to win, whether it's in overtime or a shootout, you still have to win it. You can easily lose it, too."