Six Vezina Trophies as the league's top goaltender proves that Dominik Hasek is more than capable of leading a team. The way the Detroit Red Wings are playing, there is no need for him to carry the load.
Coming off consecutive shutouts, Hasek and the stingy Red Wings look to run their win streak to nine Tuesday when they open a three-game road trip against the Vancouver Canucks.
Hasek needed to stop only 21 shots for his second straight shutout, and Robert Lang, Nicklas Lidstrom and Daniel Cleary scored as Detroit (11-4-1) won its eighth in a row, 3-0 over visiting Nashville on Friday.
"I think that's as good defensively as we've ever played," Lidstrom said. "Not a big gap between the forwards and the defensemen."
Hasek, who had to make just 16 saves in a 3-0 victory over Edmonton on Wednesday, has 71 career shutouts, tying him with Harry Lumley for 11th all-time. The two-time league MVP has not allowed a goal in 153 minutes and 28 seconds since he was beat by Columbus' Ron Hainsey in a 4-1 win on Nov. 4.
"I feel very good the way I play," Hasek said. "It's a long season and one or two weeks of great play doesn't mean much to me."
While Hasek has certainly played well, Detroit's defense is allowing very little to get through.
Through 16 games, the Red Wings have allowed 332 shots, an average of 20.7 per game. That's 5.5 shots fewer than the next team, Tampa Bay, which has given up 26.2 in 15 contests. St. Louis set the record in 1999-2000, allowing 22.1 shots per game.
"You can take a slap shot from your goal line, and if it's all the way down, it's a shot on goal; it's a harmless shot," left wing Kirk Maltby said. "You can't really dictate shots. Our coaching staff, they narrow it down to scoring chances or point shots where you didn't get in the lane, things like that."
The Wings have allowed 22 shots or fewer in 11 of the first 16 games and have given up 30 shots once, against the Blues on Oct. 28.
Detroit, which has surrendered 10 goals during the eight-game streak, last won nine straight from Oct. 13-Nov. 1, 2005.
Vancouver (8-9-1) rebounded with a better performance following its worst game of the season, but couldn't hold a two-goal lead and lost for the fifth time in six contests, 3-2 to Calgary on Saturday.
"I thought we worked hard and came out with a lot of intensity," captain Markus Naslund said. "They got the one goal by (Jarome) Iginla, and after that we had the chances to get the third one, but they ended up tying it and in my mind a really fluky goal won it for them."
Roberto Luongo stopped 18 of 21 shots after allowing three goals on nine shots before being pulled early in the second period of a 6-0 loss to Anaheim on Thursday.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault shuffled his lines on Saturday in an attempt to inject some life into a team that has scored two goals or fewer in six consecutive games. Naslund was reunited with brothers Henrik and Daniel Sedin, while Brendan Morrison, who centered the team's top line most of the past four years, was demoted to left wing on the fourth line.
"There were some great plays by the twins," Naslund said. "It was frustrating not to put them in on a game like this."
Luongo made 27 saves in his Canucks' debut, leading Vancouver to a 3-1 win at Detroit on Oct. 5 in the season opener for both teams. The Wings ended a three-game losing streak in Vancouver with a 7-3 victory on March 19.