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Kind of streaky

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Teemu Pulkkinen will play on the second line with Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm when the Red Wings host the Coyotes at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT -- The Red Wings are not where they want to be but at least they're getting points.

After Tuesday's shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres, the Wings have gotten points in eight straight games, going 5-0-3 in that span.

It is their longest such streak since recording at least one point in 12 consecutive games (10-0-2) from March 11-April 3, 2010, when they were fighting to make the playoffs.

"I think we are starting to play really offensive hockey, we are over-shooting the puck, we have lots of shots on net at the end of the game," said Tomas Tatar, who has five goals and two assists in the eight games. "We just have to learn how to manage the score. We've been leading a lot but we let them tie the game so we know we have to be smarter to the end of the game and finish the game without going into overtime."

"Anytime you get a chance to get two (points) that’s obviously what you want to do regardless of how we get them," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "But in the long run you’ve got to find a better way to success, I think."

That is the other streak the Wings have going, playing in five straight overtime games. Seven of the Wings' last eight games have gone to overtime.

"We've been playing so many OTs, it's a lot," Tatar said. "We just can't let it happen. When we're leading the game, we have to play a little smarter and win in regulation."

The Wings have never gone to overtime in six consecutive games but have had five straight twice before.

The other five-game overtime streaks were from Nov. 7-16, 2013, and March 26-April 3, 1997.

The Wings played in 27 overtime games in the 1996-97 season.

"We’ve put our self in a little more trouble than we have to," Kronwall said. "I think a lot of nights when we’ve had excellent periods of playing, instead of getting a few goals and getting a good lead, now you make it interesting. They score one and they come back late. That’s something, obviously one area that we want to focus on and get better at."

The fact is there aren't a lot of blowouts these days, so overtime is not uncommon.

"It hasn’t been good for my wife’s health, I don’t know if it’s been odd," Blashill said. "I think part of it is the league. The league is extremely tight. Every single night comes down to play here and a play there. It’s been well-documented we’ve gone into a lot of overtimes and had leads and things like that. We just got to keep grinding, keep getting better and when we go into overtime try to win as many of those as we can."

LINE CHANGES: The Wings tried a few different line combinations at the end of Tuesday night's game and those changes are sticking for now.

Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm will now be joined by Teemu Pulkkinen. Luke Glendening and Drew Miller will now have Brad Richards on their line.

"As you go through the season you go through different parts and you want to find ways to be as productive as possible with each line," Blashill said. "We think this gives us a chance to be as productive as possible with each line."

Blashill said this is not an indictment of Richards at all.

"The biggest thing I’ve seen is he’s had an unbelievable, really good approach," Blashill said. "His approach has been great. He wants to win bad. He does everything it takes to win. I think he’s probably like lots of guys on our team, would probably love to have more points. But that’s the way it goes. If your approach is good over the long haul, the rest follows."

Richards, whose shootout goal got the Wings the extra point Tuesday, has four assists in 12 games.

Henrik Zetterberg's line with Justin Abdelkader and Dylan Larkin remains the same, as does Riley Sheahan's with Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.

"The lines have been changing lately, or at the start of the season, so it's kind of nice to have the same line mates for quite a bit," Tatar said. "I feel like the chemistry is clicking, we know about each other, we're talking a lot on the ice, off the ice. We're really good friends so right now the chemistry is clicking and we are having fun out there."

MARCHENKO MAINTAINING SPOT: Kyle Quincey's ankle injury has proven to be an opportunity for Alexey Marchenko.

Marchenko will be making his 19th straight start Thursday night.

"I am still like once in a while wondering, but it’s great to play," Marchenko said. "Everyone wants to play. Every time you are on the ice it’s a great feeling."

Marchenko has one assist and is minus-3. His focus has always been on staying home defensively rather than jumping into the play on offense.

"I think if you are a defenseman you have to think defense first," Marchenko said. "I think I can maybe help the attack. All our D can help and be more involved in the game. I try to be involved in the game."

Marchenko has played with both Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl.

Smith remains in the lineup for the second straight game.

STICKING UP FOR YOUR TEAMMATE: In the second period of Tuesday's game, Zetterberg found himself in a skirmish with Buffalo's Evander Kane.

Smith immediately jumped in to help and was given a roughing penalty for his trouble.

But Blashill said after the game that he was happy that Smith jumped in and would take that penalty every time.

"I don’t want to see one of our best players get hurt," Smith said. "And it’s not even if Kane would hurt him. Z could hurt himself in a play like that. You don’t want to see that. You just do it. It’s kind of just ingrained in myself and I think a lot of players. I was shocked that I got a penalty, to be honest. I didn’t throw a punch or anything, I just kind of got in there. It was a crucial call because they ended up scoring and changed the momentum. I’ll always do it. I’ll always get in there and I’ll always help because that’s kind of the mentality that I’ve always been brought up with and I think that’s the mentality that we want in the room, to protect each other."

Smith knows that kind of action helps strengthen a team's bonds.

"To be honest, I want somebody to jump in for me too," Smith said. "It just shows that everybody’s got each other’s back. And that’s the biggest thing. That’s how you become a Stanley Cup team, is when everybody’s got each other’s back."

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