RED WINGS (2-2-0) at BLACKHAWKS (5-0-0)
TV: FS-Detroit; CSN-Chicago
Season series: The Central Division rivals are meeting for the first of four times this season. The Blackhawks won four of the six games in 2011-12 and their two losses came in overtime, giving Chicago 10 of a possible 12 points.
Big story: The Red Wings will try to do something that no one has succeeded at doing so far -- beat the Hawks. A victory in front of what's sure to be a roaring packed house at United Center would give Chicago the best start in franchise history.
Red Wings: The Wings looked more like themselves on Friday, with Todd Bertuzzi scoring twice in his first appearance of the season and Pavel Datsyuk adding a goal and two assists in a 5-3 home victory against Minnesota. The best news was that the power play, which came in 0-for-15, scored twice in five opportunities.
Coach Mike Babcock was also happy with his makeshift defense, which is minus injured regulars Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White and Jonathan Ericsson. Minor-league call-up Brian Lashoff, newly signed Kent Huskins and rookie Brendan Smith drew praise from their coach on Saturday.
"I thought we were way better defensively, and yet we still had to count on [goalie Jimmy Howard] too much,'' Babcock said. "I'd like to not have to count on him at all, but that's the way things are right now.
"But, I think our young D is getting better and better. We managed our gap better. We moved the puck better as the game went on.''
Blackhawks: Chicago had to work hard at Columbus on Saturday night, but got another big performance from two of its stars to beat the Blue Jackets 3-2. Patrick Kane had a pair of assists, and the second one came on a third-period goal by Jonathan Toews that proved to be the winner.
"That was one of those games where maybe we didn't play our best hockey like we've seen in the last five games, but as a team it doesn't matter who goes out there you've got to find a way to win," Toews said. "And we did that."
The win enabled the Blackhawks to match the fastest start in franchise history -- the 1971-72 team also started 5-0-0.
One big reason for the Hawks' fast start has been a rebound by Kane, who has nine points in Chicago's first five games.
"You can tell he's good ol' Kaner," Toews said. "He's going to work hard and make plays."
Who's hot: Rookie Damien Brunner is making himself right at home in Detroit, with goals in each of the last two games. Datsyuk has two goals and six goals in the last three games. … The trio of Kane (2-7-9), Marian Hossa (5-2-7) and Toews (3-2-5) has combined for nine goals, 21 points and three game-winners.
Injury report: The Wings are coping with the absence of White (lacerated leg), Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Ericsson (shoulder). Backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (groin) has yet to play. … Chicago has been without forward Daniel Carcillo (knee) since opening day, and he's not expected back until late February.
|Back to top|