The Chicago Blackhawks
have to hope they fare better outdoors against the Detroit Red Wings
than they're doing indoors.
The Wings made it 3-for-3 against Chicago this season with a 4-0 victory over the Hawks at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night — the opener of a home-and-home series that concludes on New Year's Day at Wrigley Field with the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. The loss snapped the Hawks' franchise-record winning streak at nine games and ended their 11-game streak with at least one point in regulation.
It was the second time in less than two weeks that Detroit shut out a red-hot team. The Red Wings and Conklin defeated the San Jose Sharks
, who have the NHL's best record, 6-0 at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 18.
"You've got to play well against the good teams," said forward Johan Franzen
, who scored twice. "We kind of need that on this team to get motivated."
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews
said the Hawks looked the same as they had during the winning streak — but were playing against a better opponent.
''We played the way we've played the past few games,'' he said, ''but we played a better team."
The 700th regular-season meeting between the teams looked like it was going to be dominated by the Hawks, who controlled most of the first period, had 12 of the game's first 13 shots thanks to a pair of power plays. But they were unable to beat Conklin, who made several excellent saves on the way to his third shutout of the season and seventh of his career.
"Goaltending is your best penalty-killer," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We got a good goaltending performance, and it allowed us get to get ourselves rolling."
Conklin said he got plenty of help from his defense.
''The defense was outstanding, especially on the penalty kill,'' Conklin said. ''I think it was big to get out of there (the two early penalties) tied 0-0.''
The Wings wound up leaving the ice ahead 1-0 on Pavel Datsyuk
's power-play goal at 15:51. The goal, a screened wrist shot from the top of the left circle, extended Datsyuk's points streak to eight games, during which he has 7 goals and 9 assists for 16 points.
Detroit made it 2-0 at 6:58 of the second period when Franzen scored again with the extra man, beating Nikolai Khabibulin
and sending the water bottle flying by roofing a quick wrist shot the bottom of the right circle high to the short side. Franzen jammed the puck through Khabibulin's pads 37 seconds into the third period to make it 3-0, and Tomas Kopecky
completed the scoring with 7:55 to play.
Now it's on to the Winter Classic, where Conklin will become the first player to take part in all three NHL outdoor games. He's played the Wings' last six games while Chris Osgood
recovers from a groin injury.
"Conks is in. That was our plan, if he played well, he was going to go,'' Babcock said when asked about his goaltending plans for Thursday. "It gives Ozzie more time, plus, I'm not saying he wouldn't do a fantastic job, but you're always concerned about a guy coming back from a groin injury.''
Conklin also started the NHL's previous two outdoor games. He was with Edmonton when it hosted the Montreal Canadiens
at Commonwealth Stadium in November 2003, and was in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins
when they beat the Buffalo Sabres
2-1 in a shootout at Ralph Wilson Stadium last New Year's Day.
''I think it's going to be a lot of fun. Both team realize the importance of it,'' Conklin said. ''It's more than a run-of-the-mill regular-season game.''
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report