Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 2/7/12

After a long west coast road trip that spanned seven days and four games, the Detroit Red Wings will finally fly home tonight.  Their next game, to be played on Wednesday, will give the Red Wings an opportunity to extend their franchise-record 17 game home winning streak.

However, the Wings will have to do it without their star goaltender Jimmy Howard.  The long road trip cost the Red Wings dearly, as Howard sustained a broken finger during Thursday’s shootout win against Vancouver.  Howard will be reevaluated upon returning home, but it is believed he will miss around two weeks.

The injury to the NHL’s leading netminder in terms of wins comes at an inopportune time for Detroit, who lead a tight Western Conference by just three points.

Backup goaltender Ty Conklin started the game following Howard’s injury, and gave up three first period goals to the Oilers before being pulled in favor of newly called up Joey MacDonald.  MacDonald came in and stopped 19 of 20 Edmonton shots, but was unable to lead the Red Wings to a victory.

The game ended with a 5-4 Edmonton win, and it took a shootout to decide the game.  It was the Red Wings’ first loss in a shootout this year, and are now 6-1 in shootouts this season.  Detroit rallied back in the game to take a 4-3 lead after being down 3-1, but Edmonton tied the game with under a minute left and won the shootout 2-1.

“It’s disappointing to lose the extra point when we had the lead with under a minute to play,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said.  ”We came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game

Niklas Kronwall lays out Oilers' forward Ales Hemsky

up and then took the lead.  So it’s tough to take when you lose after battling back like that.”

The Wings lost the game, but MacDonald’s performance was good enough to earn him another start, and he didn’t disappoint.  Monday night in Phoenix, MacDonald allowed only two goals on 22 Phoenix shots.  But it was Coyote goaltender Mike Smith that emerged as the star of the game, as he shut Detroit’s shooters down, making 30 saves on 31 shots.  The Wings dropped the game 3-1, their first regulation loss of the second half.

The tough road trip was not all bad for Detroit, who picked up five points despite losing Howard.

The Red Wings now return home to Joe Louis Arena, where they have not lost since November 3rd.  Wednesday marks the beginning of a six game home stand for Detroit, who now look to solidify themselves atop the Central division with playoff time approaching.

What to watch for

The Red Wings will look to extend their 17 game home winning streak with young Joey MacDonald in net

Upcoming schedule

Wednesday vs. Edmonton (7:30pm, FSD+)

Friday vs. Anaheim (7:30pm, FSD)

Sunday vs. Philadelphia (7:30pm, NBCSP)

 

Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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