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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 2:34 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Howard set to return from broken finger

CHICAGO -- Jimmy Howard has to get back in net at some point, so why not make his return from a broken finger in one of the toughest buildings to play, against a team that's on a three-game winning streak?

That's the approach that Howard, the Detroit Red Wings starting goalie, is taking coming into Tuesday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United  Center (NBCSN,TSN2). Howard broke the index finger on his right [blocker side] hand on Feb. 2 in Vancouver and hasn't played since -- a span of eight games and 19 days.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," said Howard, who has 32 wins in 44 starts. "Why not? No matter where you play now in the NHL, with the parity, it's always tough. So, it might as well be here in Chicago. I always enjoy playing here and it's always a great atmosphere."

In the time he's been out, the Wings returned from the road trip where he got hurt and won six straight games at Joe Louis Arena to set the NHL record with 23 straight home victories. Howard won the first 17 and then watched 32-year old journeyman backup Joey MacDonald win the last six.

Aside from the anxiousness of watching games, the biggest issues in Howard's recovery have been finding the right comfort level for his injured digit while holding the goalie stick and tracking the puck with traffic in front of him.

The puck-tracking probably just requires him to get back into games and get his anticipation and feel for stopping pucks back, while the stick has been altered to adjust to the finger. Howard originally had a notch cut out of the stick to accommodate where his gloved and bandaged finger would rest, but he did away with it because the notch was too big and it felt awkward.

He went back to an unaltered stick for a few practices and then came back recently with another notched cue -- only this one with a less pronounced slot cut out of it.

"The one that I used [Monday], with the way that it's cut out, the notch isn't as big so my hand isn't as far down on the paddle," Howard said. "It makes it easier to use. We've continued to tinker and still tinkering with stuff. It seems like we've gotten a good mix here. We're just trying to find ways to make it more comfortable with holding onto the stick and trying to be as realistic as possible out there with it."

As for the pain level with the finger?

"The pain level isn't really a factor anymore," Howard said. "It's more so, just being comfortable out there and using the stick. We're just trying to figure out some things to make it better."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 2:28 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Toews, Datsyuk missing from Hawks-Wings rivalry

CHICAGO -- Just like that, two of the biggest stars and top-line centers for Tuesday night's matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks are not playing.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews is out with an undisclosed upper-body injury that’s being termed "day-to-day" and is different from the one that caused him to miss a game prior to the All Star-break plus the All-Star Game itself.

Over in the opponent's locker room, the Red Wings will play without star center Pavel Datsyuk -- who could be gone for 2-3 weeks after having his knee scoped on Tuesday morning in Detroit.

"Taser's out tonight, day-to-day," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Chicago's morning skate at the United Center. "Johnny's important in a lot of ways. He brings leadership and quality ice time for us and affects us in a lot of ways."

As for Datsyuk, the Wings were a little more specific about his injury and the timetable for when he's expected to return to action.

"Pav is going to be out a couple of weeks with minor arthroscopic surgery this morning," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said prior to Detroit's morning skate on Tuesday. "Everything is real good. He got a fragment in his knee, an old thing we wanted to clean up here prior to playoff time, so he'll be out a couple weeks. So, it's a good opportunity for someone else."

Brendan Morrison will start out centering Chicago's top line in place of Toews -- between Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane -- while Henrik Zetterberg will bump up from the Red Wings' second line to the first and have Valtteri Filppula move from left wing of Detroit's second line to the middle.

Forward Danny Cleary, who's missed the last five games with knee soreness, will return to the lineup for Detroit -- but instead of right wing on the third line, he will man one of the wings on the second line, with Justin Abdelkader staying on the right side of Darren Helm on the third forward unit.

"It's always a big thing having depth and guys who can play different roles," said Abdelkader, who also has center experience along with top-line left wing Johan Franzen, who can take draws and used to be a center in the Swedish Elite League. "I think[Datsyuk] is the best overall player in the game, so it's tough losing him. It's going to be a big loss. Hopefully we can all come together and fill the void together. It's just part of hockey. You know there's going to be injuries."

Quenneville said it's imperative that Morrison not try to do too much to replace Toews.

"When you get in there, don't try to be Johnny," Quenneville said. "Just be yourself."

Here is how the Red Wings and Blackhawks will likely line up on Tuesday night:

RED WINGS
Johan Franzen - Henrik Zetterberg - Todd Bertuzzi
Jiri Hudler - Valtteri Filppula - Danny Cleary
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Jan Mursak - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard
Joey MacDonald

BLACKHAWKS
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Andrew Brunette - Marcus Kruger - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Victor Stalberg
Jimmy Hayes - Jamal Mayers - John Scott

Duncan Keith - Dylan Olsen
Sean O'Donnell - Brent Seabrook
Sami Lepisto - Nick Leddy

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery
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Posted On Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 10:50 AM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sharks' Murray to miss second straight game

DETROIT -- The San Jose Sharks will be without hulking Swedish defenseman Douglas Murray for a second straight game when they play the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena (12:30 p.m., NBC).

Murray suffered a fracture Adam's Apple last week in Tampa Bay, when he tried to break up a pass on a rush to the net and the puck rolled up the shaft of his stick and hit him in the throat. Murray said he's sitting out mainly as a precautionary measure.

"I feel fine," Murray said. "It's nothing I can really feel. It's more the doctors making a decision on it. It's precautionary. It can get a lot worse, so it's something you don't want to mess around with. Right now, I just listen to what the doctors say."

The biggest medical issue would be swelling in his throat, which could constrict breathing and eating.

"The doctors call it prime real estate because there's not a lot of room there," Murray said. "Any type of swelling it becomes a major thing, even though it's nothing major right now."

Thus, there is no set timeline for a return. Missing a game against the Red Wings is also a big disappointment for Murray -- who's Swedish and enjoys facing all the Swedish stars in Detroit's lineup. The Wings also have an NHL record 22-game home winning streak going, which would be a feather in the cap for the Sharks to end.

"It's always fun to play against them," Murray said.  "I have a lot of different motivating factors. They're putting a 22-game home winning streak on the line here, which would've made it even more exciting to play against them. It's always been special for me to play against them, with all the great Swedish players they have – especially with Lidstrom. That always motivates you a little extra."
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Posted On Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 10:48 AM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks-Red Wings

DETROIT -- Detroit will start journeyman backup Joey MacDonald for a seventh straight time, while starting goalie Jimmy Howard takes the added time to continue healing up a broken finger that's kept him out since injuring it Feb. 2 at Vancouver.

Red Wings star center Pavel Datsyuk is expected to play against the Shark after having a slight sore throat on Saturday and not practicing outdoors with the rest of the team at Clark Park on the city's West side in front of an estimated 2,000 fans.

Detroit will also be without forward Danny Cleary at least one more game with knee soreness, as he hopes to return to the lineup on Tuesday in Chicago. San Jose will be without defenseman Douglas Murray, who's been diagnosed with a broken Adam's Apple after a puck hit him in the throat last week in Tampa Bay.

Here is how the Sharks and Red Wings might line up to start Sunday's game.

SHARKS

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
Jamie McGinn - Dominic Moore - Torrey Mitchell
Andrew Desjardins - Michal Handzus - Benn Ferriero

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Colin White - Brent Burns
Jim Vandermeer - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

RED WINGS

Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Jiri Hudler
Johan Franzen - Valtteri Filppula - Todd Bertuzzi
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Jan Mursak - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Mike Commodore

Joey MacDonald
Ty Conklin

Note: The top two lines looked this way for most of the third period in Friday's 2-1 victory against the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena. Datsyuk didn't skate with the rest of the team at Saturday's practice, so the forward lines weren't what they'll be to start out against the Sharks on Sunday. If Babcock goes back to the line combinations he's used most of the season, he will split up Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and put the Swedish star forward at center of the second line while bumping up power forward Johan Franzen to the top line -- and likely flip-flopping Bertuzzi and Hudler at right wing on the top two units.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 10:46 AM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Could Sharks snap the Wings' record home streak?

DETROIT -- Based on the recent past, it probably isn't just a coincidence the Detroit Red Wings have rattled off an NHL record 22 straight home victories without once facing the San Jose Sharks.

Not only have the Sharks knocked the Red Wings from the playoffs in the Western Conference semifinals the past two seasons, but San Jose has also won five straight regular-season games against Detroit regardless of location.

That includes a 4-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 28, which still stands as one of just two regulation losses for the Red Wings on their home ice this season. Think there isn't some extra importance being placed on the Sharks' second visit to the Motor City by Detroit on Sunday (12:30 p.m., NBC)?

"They've beat us every time we played them this year," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It must be time to say, 'Enough's enough.' We got to do something about that. They're a good team. They're on a long road trip. We've played well at home. They should throw the puck to the net a lot, got big forwards, they're active on the back end, so it should be a fun game."

San Jose expects nothing less.

"They've definitely won some games here at home 3-2 or 2-1, so they've found ways to win," Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said after a practice on Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. "I expect a tight game, but it's important for us to have a good start."

When did the Sharks start to take notice of the Wings' impressive home winning streak?

"I think when they got around 16 or 17 wins and got closer to breaking the [old record of 20]," Clowe said. "There were games in there where they just won by a goal or won in a shootout, so they were finding ways to win. I expect them to be fired up for us. We've played them a couple times and beat them, so they'll be ready. But we've got to get our own streak going here."

Antti Niemi will likely be in goal to start for the Sharks, who've lost two straight games and find themselves looking for a turnaround game in the middle of a brutal nine-game road trip. Niemi hasn't been on top of his game of late, but coming to Detroit always seems to cure whatever ails him.'

The Finnish goalie has played well inside Joe Louis Arena since his days playing with the Chicago Blackhawks.

"We've been able to play some better games here," Niemi said. "That's something that gives us extra confidence, for sure. I've felt good playing here so far. I think playing a top team, you don't need to dig deep to get the motivation when you play these guys."

Still, Detroit's streak can't be overlooked.

"That's unbelievable," Niemi said. "You would think you would have some bad bounces, and it would be almost impossible to do. It's hard to win a couple of back-to-back games, even at home. Doing it that many times? It's huge."
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Posted On Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 5:03 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wings will ride hot hand in MacDonald on Sunday

DETROIT – Mike Babcock has decided to ride the hot hand with his goalie situation, which means journeyman backup Joey MacDonald will get his seventh straight start for the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

MacDonald will face the San Jose Sharks, who’ve beaten the Red Wings in five straight regular-season games dating back to last season. San Jose hopes to get back to winning itself, but also to end Detroit’s NHL record 22-game home winning streak – which was extended in dramatic fashion Friday night by Pavel Datsyuk’s game-winning goal that beat the Nashville Predators with just 5.8 seconds left in regulation.

“I get the opportunity again, against a great hockey team again,” said MacDonald, who was recalled from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League after starter Jimmy Howard broke his finger Feb. 2 against Vancouver. “We’ll just see if we can keep it rolling. It feels great the coaching staff has the confidence in me to throw me out there again against another great hockey team. I’ve just got to keep building on [five straight wins] and take advantage of the opportunity.”

Howard was originally hoping to return Friday night against the Predators, then set his sights on Sunday’s game against San Jose. Now, he’s slated to start on Tuesday in Chicago, which will be his first game in 19 days.

“That's the game plan now,” said Howard, who opted to stay at Joe Louis Arena and workout on Saturday afternoon rather than attending Detroit’s outdoor practice at Clark Park on the city’s West side. “Joey's doing a great job. We'll let my finger heal up here for a couple more days. It's getting better. The x-rays we had last week are showing improvements, the bone is healing. Hopefully it gets better.”

Datsyuk also missed Detroit’s outdoor skate with what the team said was a slight sore throat and went through the workout back at Joe Louis Arena with Howard and injured forward Patrick Eaves (concussion) – who didn’t wear full equipment, but took shots on Howard.

San Jose practiced at The Joe on Saturday afternoon and is expected to start goalie Antti Niemi – who usually plays well in Detroit – on Sunday, despite some recent struggles to stop the puck. Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray won’t suit up against the Wings because of a fractured Adam’s Apple that happened on Thursday night in Tampa Bay while trying to block a pass.

Murray also sat out a loss Friday night in Carolina.
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Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 5:36 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Silence is golden for Preds' free-agent-to-be Suter

DETROIT -- Ryan Suter's "not talking about it" approach to his pending unrestricted free agency this coming summer even extends to his teammates.

"We just don't talk about it at all in here," Suter said, after Nashville's morning skate on Friday at Joe Louis Arena. "Except for this guy over here [Preds defenseman Kevin Klein]. He's been all over me about it ever since we got here. Won't leave me alone, all of a sudden."

Suter wasn't genuinely upset about Klein's ribbing, but there's a reason the joking seemed to fit perfectly with being in the Motor City. Whenever Suter's potential future destination is discussed these days, it seems like it's always accompanied by talk of the Detroit Red Wings -- who could theoretically be one of the main suitors for Suter in free agency.

Regardless, the July 1 start of free agency is still a long ways off and Suter's Predators are currently sitting in good position to make the playoffs for a third straight season. Nashville is third in the Central Division with 72 points heading into Friday night's game against the Red Wings and would be the fifth seed in the Western Conference if the playoffs started now.

There is still time to try and better that position by catching the teams ahead of them in the standings, which is why Suter decided to put the kibosh on talking about free agency with the media.

"It was a distraction, but I'm not talking about it anymore so it's been good," Suter said. "Every game is such a battle for us. The standings are so tight. We've got a little breathing room now, but now we're trying to catch teams in front of us. We're just focused on catching St. Louis and hopefully catching Detroit some time."

Suter also expressed some interest in bettering the Predators prior to the playoffs via a trade and said that Nashville could be on the verge of making a deep postseason run with the right moves prior to the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

"We've got a good group of guys," Suter said. "We might be a couple pieces away from being an elite team for many years, so hopefully we can continue to improve. That's the biggest thing for us, is continuing to improve and get better. I told [Predators general manager] David Poile: 'We win and everything [else] takes care of itself.' That's what we're focused on. In their meetings, hopefully they're focused on the same thing."

Evidently, the Preds' management group is on the same page as Suter. Poile pulled off a deal on Friday afternoon -- not long after Suter talked to reporters -- to bring in big defenseman Hal Gill from the Montreal Canadiens.

Prior to the announcement of the deal, Suter thought the Predators could not only get past the second round of the playoffs this season, but outright win the Western Conference -- just one year removed from winning their first playoff series. Adding Gill's veteran experience on the blue line can only strengthen that belief.

"You have to go into the playoffs at the top of your game," Suter said. "We've struggled in the last five or six [games], but last game we started to play better and get back to basics. For us to be successful in the playoffs, we've got to continue to improve and get better now. We can't wait for the playoffs, because when you have a young team you can't just flip on the switch. We have to get playing playoff hockey now and hopefully be at the top of our game once we get to the playoffs."
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Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 4:52 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Zetterberg upgraded to 'game-time decision'

DETROIT -- It turns out Henrik Zetterberg might be healthy enough to face the Nashville Predators on Friday night after all.

After taking a skate on Friday morning at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit's Swedish star forward told reporters that he was feeling a little better than he did on Thursday -- when he missed practice with an undisclosed lower-body injury -- but that he'd still sit out the Nashville game.

"Still day-to-day," Zetterberg said.

However, Detroit general manager Ken Holland said on Friday afternoon that Zetterberg would test it during warm-ups prior to the game and then make a decision. Holland said Zetterberg told Red Wings athletic trainer Piet Van Zant on Friday morning that his injury was feeling better than it had on Thursday.

"He felt pretty good this morning," Holland said. "He'll take the pregame skate and be a game-time decision. Our initial thought was after he got hurt was [that] he'd be out [against Nashville], but when he got to the rink he told Piet he felt OK and wanted to try it. He felt a lot better this morning."

Zetterberg was initially hurt during his first shift in Tuesday's record-setting 3-1 home win against the Dallas Stars, but was able to finish the game. He also scored the first of two Detroit goals in the first period and would've had the eventual game-winning goal had Dallas forward Adam Burish not scored late in the third to provide the final margin.

Zetterberg has also started to heat up recently, scoring goals in two straight games and in three of the last four to go with six assists in the last six contests. If Zetterberg plays, then Tomas Tatar will be a healthy scratch after being recalled from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.

Tatar had been penciled into the lineup to play left wing on the fourth line, with veteran Tomas Holmstrom moving up to right wing of the third line and Justin Abdelkader taking Zetterberg's spot at center of the second line.

If Zetterberg can handle centering the second line, then Abdelkader will head back to right wing of the third line and Holmstrom will head back to the fourth line with youngsters Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton.
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Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 4:17 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Trotz thinks Blackhawks will make a turnaround

DETROIT -- It was a busy day in the Motor City for Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz on Friday.

Before his Predators completed a trade to bring in Hal Gill from the Montreal Canadiens in the afternoon, Trotz spent almost 20 minutes chatting with reporters following his team's morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. Among the various topics discussed was his opinion of what happened to their Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks, who snapped a nine-game winless skid Thursday at Madison Square Garden with a 4-2 win against the New York Rangers.

Trotz said he believed the losing streak had made the Blackhawks "fragile," and then explained that he saw the Hawks start doing things that were uncharacteristic of them when they were winning and topped the League's standings as recently as late January.

"They're still a good team," Trotz said. “They’re still dangerous … a little bit fragile. What happens when you're struggling is you're fragile and you doubt and you also cheat all over the ice."

That "cheating" -- done by forwards looking to create good offensive chances by slipping behind an opposing defenseman unnoticed -- created too many situations where the Hawks' defense was left vulnerable without enough help from backchecking forwards.

"A lot of times offensive players will say, 'You know, if I just hang out here, a little higher, I'm going to get an offensive chance,'" Trotz said. "But what happens is you don't get an offensive chance because you wind up standing by the defensemen … where if you come back it will be deeper and you come back and help out, you get the puck and you create a little bit of that gap."

That gap largely has been missing for the Hawks when they had the puck the past couple of weeks, which is one of those little details that often goes unnoticed by the casual fan but can decide a game one way or the other.

"If you have no gap, then you have no speed and you're just sort of killing your own skills," Trotz said. "That's why I think Detroit does such a great job. The (Red Wings) play a 200-foot game and they force you to get up and gap up and force you to do all those detail things. Detail things are hard things that you have to do before you have a chance to win. If you're not doing them, then you're really limiting your chances."

Trotz said a number of Chicago's forwards, including Patrick Kane, simply weren't generating enough speed when skating with the puck, largely because they were "cheating" too much looking for breakaways and odd-man rushes.

Trotz's Predators were the team that extended Chicago's winless skid to nine games with a 3-2 victory in Nashville on Tuesday. The Hawks played better than they had in the previous six games of the current nine-game road swing they're finishing, but still showed some of the things Trotz mentioned Saturday.

"Kane had no speed, and thank God because when he gets rolling he's hard to stop," Trotz said. "I was actually happy that he was cheating. (Marian) Hossa was the one guy who was sort of playing a complete game and he ended up being the most dangerous guy all night … and (Jonathan) Toews was the real deal. He was really trying to will that team that night. Some of the other guys were cheating too much -- trying to do the right thing, but doing the wrong thing, if you know what I mean."

However, Trotz said he had a gut feeling things would turn around for the Hawks when they arrived in New York.

"I think they sort of hit rock bottom," Trotz said. "When you hit rock bottom, which I thought they did maybe the game before (ours), the hockey gods sort of test you -- and they give you maybe one more slap in the face, like, ‘Now do you get it?’ You know? So I thought the New York game would be sort of a breakout game. Maybe I should have bought some lottery tickets."

Trotz also said he thinks coach Joel Quenneville and his staff will get things corrected in short order and Chicago once again become one of the top teams in the division and Western Conference.

"They will be better off for having gone through it," Trotz said. "They've got a lot of good pieces. The defense is pretty good once you get (Niklas Hjalmarsson) back. They maybe want to get a little deeper (through trades). They've still got dynamic forwards and they've got good team speed and some good size. They've got a lot of the elements. Their goaltending seems to be a little bit of a bugaboo for them right now, but hopefully those guys get back on track."
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Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 1:58 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Red Wings hope to extend streak without Zetterberg

DETROIT – The last three games here at Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit Red Wings have played increasingly like a playoff team facing elimination.

The desperation they’ve played with of late had more to do with an impressive home winning streak they didn’t want to end shy of becoming the NHL standard. That goal was accomplished on Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars, whom Detroit beat 3-1 for its 21st straight victory on home ice.

Now, the Wings host the Nashville Predators on Friday night in a bid to extend the mark – and doing so without injured star forward Henrik Zetterberg, veteran forward Danny Cleary and starting goalie Jimmy Howard.

Are they concerned the same level of desperation might not be there as it was before they set the home-winning streak record?

“I think we’re going to be just business as usual,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said following Friday’s morning skate. “We’re trying to get two points. We’re facing a [Central Division] rival, as well, that’s looking to gain points and move up in the standings. I think that’s the approach we’re going to have for tonight’s game.”

That’s a little different than the approach they took prior to the game Tuesday against the Stars, when for the first time during the streak some Wings players talked openly about going for the win to set themselves apart from the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers – who each won 20 straight home games respectively.

The Wings then backed it up by jumping out to an early 2-0 lead against Dallas in a dominating first period before making it stand up with a strong, passionate defensive effort during the final two periods for the win.

Detroit’s also been without Howard for the last four games in the streak, which means journeyman backup Joey MacDonald has been center stage to help the Wings cap it off. MacDonald’s been outstanding – posting a 1.72 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in six appearances since Howard left the lineup starting Feb. 4 in Edmonton – but there’s no denying the defensive effort in front of him has been playoff-quality.

Will the Predators see that same kind of intensity on Friday night?

“I think you look at the standings and you see how tight it is,” Wings forward Drew Miller said. “We’re fighting for points to stay at the top. We want to stay up there and making this place, Joe Louis, a hard place to play. I don’t think it’s as much about continuing the record as it is about continuing to play well at home.”

According to the Predators, that goal has already been accomplished.
Nashville has watched its division rival string so many home victories together during this streak – including a 4-1 Wings win against them on Nov. 26 – that they can’t help but be impressed by it.

“We talked about it the other day, about them playing great at home so just respect that,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “You just respect the streak, but we’ve come in here and played well and gotten games here. To us, it’s a divisional foe. Let’s get after them and see what happens.”

Trotz, however, is quite impressed by the Wings’ record home streak.

“I think it’s one of the great records in the game,” he said. “There isn’t a team in this League where you can just say, ‘Just play [and you’ll win].’ There’s so many good goaltenders who can steal games and so many things that can happen. Then you’ve got travel and we’re in the Western Conference. People can say what they want, but travel beats you up and they’ve [still] done it. More credit to them.”

Speaking of being beat up, the Wings are going through a tough stretch with injuries right now – with Zetterberg’s undisclosed lower-body ailment being the latest hurdle. He participated in Detroit’s optional skate, but wasn’t good enough to play.

Whether he plays on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks is also up in the air.

“It felt a little better,” said Zetterberg, who got hurt on the first shift of the game against Dallas but finished the game and scored the Wings’ first goal. “[It was the] first time I skated since the game. [It’s] still day to day. “I’ll probably practice [Saturday] if it doesn't get any worse tonight. We're just going to wait and see [about playing Sunday). We're doing everything we can with treatment.''

Detroit called up Tomas Tatar from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League to take Zetterberg’s spot on the active roster, while Justin Abdelkader will likely move to Zetterberg’s position on the ice at center of the second line.

Forwards Patric Hornqvist and Brian McGrattan will also miss the game with upper-body injuries and didn’t make the trip.

Here is a look at how the Predators and Red Wings could line up Friday night:

PREDATORS

Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque - David Legwand - Craig Smith
Colin Wilson - Nick Spaling - Brandon Yip
Matt Halischuk - Jerred Smithson - Jordin Tootoo

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Roman Josi - Kevin Klein
Francis Bouillon - Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

RED WINGS

Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Justin Abdelkader - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Tomas Holmstrom
Tomas Tatar - Cory Emmerton - Jan Mursak

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Joey MacDonald
Ty Conklin
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Quote of the Day

It's not always going to be pretty, especially against a great goalie [Lundqvist] like that. My goals are never how you draw them up. It's just a matter of grinding it out and trying to create havoc in front and good things happen.

— Capitals forward Jay Beagle on scoring in their Game 3 victory against the Rangers on Monday