DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings’ chance to match the NHL’s longest home win streak of all-time will come against a team that could have some extra motivation besides just ending its recent struggles.
The Philadelphia Flyers are one of the franchises that currently shares that mark, and they’ll try to deny the Red Wings a 20th consecutive victory at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday night.
Detroit (37-17-2) closed in on a share of league history with a 2-1 shootout win over Anaheim on Friday. Joey MacDonald made 13 of his 29 saves in the third period while helping keep the Ducks off the scoreboard for 48:43 of regulation and the extra session, where Todd Bertuzzi provided the winning shot.
With another victory Sunday, the Red Wings would join the 1975-76 Flyers and 1929-30 Boston Bruins as winners of 20 in a row at home.
“We seem to be real comfortable here and find a way. It’s fun that we’re going to have Philly in here,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “I like the points more than anything, but I guess when you can have a record, you might as well tie it then see if you can break it. Philadelphia’s going to provide some tough opposition for us.”
The Flyers (31-17-7) have won the last two meetings with Detroit but aren’t currently playing their best. They’re 1-3-1 in their last five games, although two of those defeats have come against the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers.
Philadelphia gave up three unanswered goals in a 5-2 home defeat to New York on Saturday, and yielded three power-play scores in seven short-handed situations. The game featured 110 penalty minutes, including a season-high 68 for the Flyers.
“We have to be better, and we all know that,” forward Claude Giroux said. “If you want to win the Cup, you have to find a way to beat those kinds of teams. The Red Wings are pretty good too, so (Sunday) we’ll have to make sure that we battle better.”
The Flyers did just that last season as they earned their first victory in Detroit since 1988. Scott Hartnell scored the final of his team’s three goals in the second period, helping Philadelphia hold on for a 3-2 win to snap its 0-14-2 drought at Joe Louis Arena.
With Ilya Bryzgalov’s status unknown because of an illness, the Flyers might have no choice but to turn to Sergei Bobrovsky in net Sunday to try to keep the Red Wings off the scoreboard.
Bobrovsky, who has allowed 14 goals over his last three games, has never faced Detroit.
Even if he can go, Bryzgalov may not be a superior option. He gave up 17 goals as Phoenix got swept by Detroit in last year’s Western Conference quarterfinals.
The Red Wings have also been undermanned between the pipes lately as All-Star Jimmy Howard deals with a broken right index finger. MacDonald, 2-1-0 with a 1.63 GAA in three consecutive starts, might get the chance to try to earn his first win in six games against Philadelphia.
While he tries to help his team make history, Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom can claim some of his own. He’s expected to play in his 1,550th game, which would be the most in NHL history for a player with one team.
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