History made in Hockeytown
Wings' power play comes to life in 20th straight home win
|Moments after he scored his career-high 12th goal of the season, Niklas Kronwall is congratulated by Jiri Hudler and Henrik Zetterberg in Sunday's record-tying win over the Flyers. (Photo by Dave Reginek)|
The Wings’ coach got that, plus an NHL record victory Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Led by a pair of power-play goals and a 26-save performance by a third-string goalie, the Wings joined Boston (1929-30) and Philadelphia (1975-76) for most consecutive home wins by winning their 20th straight at JLA, defeating the Flyers 4-3.
“We need our power play to come to life. We need our guys to feel good about our power play and their skill level in those situations because it's so important,” Babcock said. “What I liked was different units got power-play goals tonight, too, which is important.”
For just the second time since mid-December, the Wings scored two power-play goals in a game on tallies from Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk.
With Todd Bertuzzi setting a screen in front of the Flyers’ net, Kronwall fired a Howitzer from the blue line for an early 1-0 lead. The power-play tally was Kronwall’s 12th goal of the campaign, which is a single-season best for the Swedish defenseman whose all-time career-high was 13 goals for the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2004-05.
The Flyers, one of the league’s best road teams, squandered two one-goal leads in the second period when persistence and lightning-fast passes set-up a pair of quick-release goals by Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
The Euro Twins have accounted for 43 points during the home winning streak with Datsyuk leading the offensive surge with six goals and 19 assists in the last 20 home contests. Zetterberg led all skaters Sunday with three-points.
“That’s usually the medicine: get the puck in and get people in there and we responded well,” said Johan Franzen, who got his league-leading 10th game-winning goal. “Every time we got down in the game we responded with huge goals. We had just great energy before the game, we had a lot of things going for us.”
The Wings regained the lead, 4-3, early in the third period when crisp passing again was paramount when Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom worked the puck down low to Franzen, who banged home the game-winner. The play was possible when Marc-Andrew Bourdon wasn’t able to get back to help his teammates as he exited the penalty box after serving the final 29-seconds of a two-minute minor that carried over from the second period.
“We got credit for two power play goals,” Babcock said, “but really (the Flyers) never got out of their zone on the third one at all, so we basically had three power-play goals.”
Joey MacDonald, who has started the last four games in place of injury All-Star goalie Jimmy Howard (finger) made several key stops. But Babcock was more pleased by the way the backup goalie rebounded from a couple miscues, which led to Flyers’ goals.
“Everybody makes mistakes. A little adversity never killed anyone,” Babcock said. “It's just how you respond to it, and I thought he did a good job.”
The Wings’ previous best home stretch was 14 straight wins, which occurred during the 1964-65 campaign. Detroit will attempt to do something that no other league franchise has done when they go for win No. 21 against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.
“We've had some great teams over the years, but we haven't been close to this record, so I think we should be proud of it,” said Lidstrom, who Sunday played in career game No. 1,550, passing legendary Alex Delvecchio for second-place on the team’s all-time list.
The Wings have now gone 102 days without losing a game on home ice, outscoring opponents 83-30. The last loss at The Joe came in a 4-1 setback to Calgary on Nov. 3.
Detroit has been so dominant during the streak that they’ve trailed just twice entering the third period – against St. Louis (Dec. 27) and Phoenix (Jan. 12).
By gaining a share of the record, the Wings now hold both home and road marks for consecutive wins. Detroit won an NHL-record 12 road games in a row – from March 1-April 15, 2006 – during coach Mike Babcock’s first season behind the Wings’ bench.
Detroit has built a 23-2-1 record at home.
The Wings also hold the league record for the longest winning streak, including the playoffs, which they set en route to claiming the 1955 Stanley Cup. That year they won the final nine regular-season games and the first six playoff games, sweeping the Toronto Maple Leafs in the semifinals, before taking a 2-0 series lead over Montreal in the finals. The Wings eventually won the Cup with a 3-1 win over the Canadiens in Game 7 at Olympia Stadium.
From a historical standpoint, the Wings' NHL streak is the fourth best of the four major North American sports.
According to The Associated Press, the NBA's longest home winning streak in a season was set by Chicago with 37 straight victories during the 1995-96 season; the 1978 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1988 Boston Red Sox each won 24 straight at home for baseball's longest single-season home winning streaks since 1919, and the Miami Dolphins won 27 straight at home from 1971-74 in what has stood as the longest home winning streak in NFL history.