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The Detroit Red Wings' play at home is a big reason why they are leading the NHL with 36 points.
Detroit looks to continue its strong play at Joe Louis Arena when it meets the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.
The Red Wings (17-6-2) are completing a three-game homestand that they opened with a 5-3 win over Calgary on Tuesday and continued with a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday. Of the next nine games for Detroit, just two will be on the road, giving it a chance to further separate itself in the Western Conference standings.
Detroit is 10-2-0 at home this year, including three straight wins. The Red Wings outscored opponents 12-5 over that stretch, but it was the team's defense that shined in its most recent game.
The Red Wings held Tampa Bay to just one shot in the first period and took a 1-0 lead following Jiri Hudler's sixth goal of the season, and first since Nov. 11.
"We knew were going to have a bit of a tiger by the tail here tonight," coach Mike Babcock told the Red Wings' official Web site. "We thought getting started would be really important for us and I thought we did a good job."
"I thought our team played well," Cleary said. "We got a lot of shots and we were physical."
Chris Osgood made 21 saves for his second straight win, improving to 12-1-1 with a league-best 1.78 goals-against average for the season.
Osgood started the season as Dominik Hasek's backup, but Hasek - who is 5-5-1 with a 2.90 GAA - has not started since Nov. 22 against Nashville. Hasek has lost his last three starts, but Babcock says he hopes to have the six-time Vezina Trophy winner start one of the next two games.
"(Osgood) has been real good but Dom's real good too, so we've got to get him in the net as well," Babcock said. "It's important to ride the hot hand."
Osgood is 10-13-0 with five ties and a 2.91 GAA facing the Coyotes. Hasek is 9-6-0 with four ties and a 2.26 GAA against Phoenix.
Detroit has won five straight over Phoenix, including a 5-2 victory on Oct. 20 behind two goals from Kirk Maltby. The Red Wings have outscored the Coyotes 27-8 over that stretch.
The Coyotes (11-12-0) dropped their second straight on Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled after less than 11 minutes when he allowed five goals and made only two saves.
Mikael Tellqvist did better, making 19 saves while giving up a second-period goal, but coach Wayne Gretzky didn't think Bryzgalov was the Coyotes' only problem on Friday.
"You make your own breaks," he said. "We didn't answer the bell."
Bryzgalov has lost two straight starts after winning his first four with Phoenix since he was picked up off waivers by the Coyotes on Nov. 17.
Peter Mueller's third-period goal was all that Phoenix managed just two days after a 3-1 loss to Minnesota that opened this four-game road trip, which concludes Monday in Pittsburgh.
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