Coyotes-Red Wings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 11, 2012
Steviey
After ending a road trip with one of their worst performances of the season, the Detroit Red Wings should be happy to return home, where they haven't lost in over two months. Getting leading scorer Pavel Datsyuk back in the lineup would also make them feel a whole lot better. The Red Wings look to move a step closer to the franchise record with their 13th straight home win Thursday night when they face the Phoenix Coyotes. A 3-0 victory over St. Louis on New Year's Eve extended Detroit's home win streak to 12, two shy of the franchise record set in 1965. "We're keeping it simple, not trying to overdo it at home," goaltender Jimmy Howard said. Detroit (26-15-1) opened a four-game trip with a 5-4 victory over Dallas but lost two of the next three, including 5-1 on Tuesday to the New York Islanders, who entered with an Eastern Conference-low 34 points. "It's just our lack of working hard," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "Our work ethic wasn't there. For whatever reason, I don't think we played as hard as you have to against a very talented team." It didn't help that Datsyuk - the team leader with 43 points - sat out for the first time this season with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Datsyuk, who hopes to return for this game, has 13 goals and 38 assists in his last 31 games against Phoenix (20-17-6). Howard - one win shy of 100 - is scheduled to start after being rested the past two games. He has been in net for each game during the home streak, compiling a 1.42 goals-against average and three shutouts. He is 5-0-2 with a 2.35 GAA lifetime against the Coyotes. Datysuk's and Howard's numbers versus Phoenix aren't surprising considering the Red Wings are 16-2-3 in the series - 9-1-1 at home - since the start of the 2006-07 season. That doesn't include Detroit's 8-3 record in postseason meetings during that span. Datsyuk had a pair of assists and Howard stopped 30 shots in a 5-2 win over the visiting Coyotes on Dec. 8. Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg was held without a goal Tuesday for the 11th straight game, but he does have 10 assists during that stretch. Phoenix opened a three-game trip Tuesday with a 2-1 shootout loss to the red-hot New York Rangers. Radim Vrbata scored his team-leading 20th goal and Mike Smith was sensational with 31 saves. Coach Dave Tippett remains optimistic despite his club's 2-4-3 record in the last nine games. "I thought Mike Smith was fantastic and gave us a chance to win. It's just too bad we couldn't get two points," Tippett said. "Vrby (Vrbata) is obviously one of our go-to goal scorers and found a hole in the middle there and capitalized. There's some good things in our game." Generating offense remains the biggest problem for the Coyotes, who have scored two goals or fewer in 11 of the last 16 games. Phoenix ranks 24th in the NHL with 2.49 goals per contest. The goaltending, though, appears to be in good hands with Smith performing at a high level since missing two weeks with a groin injury. He's 1-1-2 with a 1.48 GAA since returning, but is 1-4-0 with a 3.25 GAA in five career starts against the Red Wings.
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