is making a solid case to be the Detroit Red Wings
' starting goaltender heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For one thing, he's become all but unbeatable on home ice.
Conklin made 24 saves Friday night to record his 11th straight win at Joe Louis Arena, and the Wings received a goal and two assists from Henrik Zetterberg as they beat the Anaheim Ducks, 5-2.
"I think the team's playing really well," said Conklin, who overall is 21-7-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and six shutouts. "I don't think there's been too many nights when we've had a night off playing here, and we've been playing well lately, too. Sometimes the goalie gets fortunate that way."
Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary, Johan Franzen and Kris Draper also scored as the Wings continued their dominance over the Ducks on home ice. Anaheim, which got goals from Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, is just 3-21-3 with three ties in its franchise history at Detroit.
"It was a good game for us. It seemed like the puck was bouncing our way tonight," Zetterberg said. "We just have to enjoy this because we'll have some nights when it doesn't all go our way."
Conklin's strong play, along with the recall of goalie Jimmy Howard from Grand Rapids of the AHL, raises questions about the role of Chris Osgood heading down the stretch. The starter on last year's Stanley Cup championship team has won 18 games this season, but with a poor 3.29 GAA and .879 save percentage. Howard will start Saturday in Minnesota while Osgood rests and works on his game.
"We're trying to be proactive. We're forcing the situation," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We're challenging him to be the goalie he's capable of being and get himself physically and mentally to the top of his game."
Conklin, whose shutout total is tied for second in the NHL, already seems to be there. He yielded a power-play goal to Getzlaf just 52 seconds into the first but settled in, and the Wings' League-best offense quickly set to work getting that score back and then some.
Cleary was credited with his 12th goal of the season when Zetterberg's shot deflected off his skate and past Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 6:12 left in the period. Then Detroit's top-ranked power-play unit made it 2-1 as Datsyuk scored from the lip of the crease 33 seconds before the intermission, converting a Zetterberg feed from behind the net.
Zetterberg transitioned from setting them up to scoring one of his own with 8:21 to play in the second, another power-play goal. This time Datsyuk fed him for a shot from just inside the left circle that beat Giguere and put the Wings ahead by a pair after two.
"The power play, small things decide if it's good or not," Zetterberg said. "Most of the nights we're doing the same things, but when the puck goes in the confidence goes up a little bit and you are able to make that extra little play, maybe."
Franzen extended the lead to 4-1 with an unassisted goal 1:23 into the third. He intercepted a pass by Anaheim's Andrew Ebbett and scored his 25th of the season from the high slot.
Ryan got one back for the Ducks with 6:05 left, picking up his 20th goal -- tops among rookies -- by poking a loose puck past Conklin after a mix-up between the goalie and defenseman Chris Chelios.
Draper capped the scoring with just six seconds left. Brian Rafalski sent him in on a breakaway and he blew a shot past Giguere, who ended up with 29 saves.
Despite the fast start, Anaheim lost its third in a row to remain one point behind Edmonton for eighth in the Western Conference.
"That's the kind of start we needed," Getzlaf said. "... We had other chances to get ourselves back in the game but we didn't."
Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.