The Detroit Red Wings won their 15th consecutive game on home ice and did so in convincing fashion as they dominated the Buffalo Sabres 5-0 at the Joe Louis Arena. They broke the franchise record set back in the 1965-66 season, which is one of the last seasons of the “Original Six” era.
The Red Wings’ record at home is a sparkling 18-2-1. If only they can only bring that on the road.
Pavel Datsyuk put on another clinic tonight with three assists; Todd Bertuzzi scored a goal and had two assists; and Jimmy Howard stopped all 26 shots for his fifth shutout of the season, stretching his league-leading wins total to 27.
After the first 20 minutes of play, the Red Wings jumped out to a 3-0 lead with goals from Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Nicklas Lidstrom. The shots were even at 11-11. The Red Wings took advantage of the Sabres’ mistakes and capitalized on them. Even though they didn’t take full control of possessing the puck, the Red Wings were in ahead in the scoreboard.
Bertuzzi made it 4-0 at 4:19 of the second period and by doing a Denis Savard impression. He spun around the Sabres’ goal and hit a backhand shot to beat Ryan Miller. Thirteen seconds later, Darren Helm extended the lead to 5-0 and chased out the Sabres’ netminder, ending Miller’s nightmare. He was replaced by Jhonas Enroth.
The Sabres played uninspired hockey and the only thing missing was their head coach Lindy Ruff pulling a Roger Neilson (circa 1982 Stanley Cup Finals) by waving a white flag. They looked totally flat tonight.
Give this round of “Miller Time” to the Red Wings’ Drew Miller. He had an assist to Helm’s goal to make it 5-0 and helped chase his older brother, Ryan, out of the net. The billboards in the southeast Detroit area advertised this game as a battle of the Millers, but the way it turned it out, it was like a UFC Main Event that lasted 90 seconds.
With his three-assist night, Datsyuk notched his 15th mulit-point game this season. Also, Datsyuk became the eighth player in team history to reach 700 points and did so his 706th NHL game. He has a decent chance to pass Ted Lindsay (728 career points) for seventh all time by the end of the season.
By scoring the first goal of the game, Zetterberg ended a 14-game scoring drought for his ninth goal of the season, but has contributed with 10 assists during that span. Not counting his game-winning goal in the shootout last Thursday, his last goal was December 17 against the Los Angeles Kings. This should be a confidence-builder for “Z.”
Jimmy Howard is proving he is worthy of being an All-Star. Out of his 38 starts this season, Howard has given up two goals or less in 26 of those starts. He is on pace for a 40 plus-win season and should be nominated for the Vezina Trophy. He’ll be in some tough company though—other netminders like Tim Thomas, Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick are having Vezina-worthy seasons.
During the Red Wings’ home dominance, they have outscored their opponents 67-21. They did play an injury-depleted Sabres team who have lost their last nine games away from home to acheive the home record. The Red Wings have a chance to make it 16 straight wins this Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
But first, the Red Wings have to focus on the first game of their two-game road trip. Tomorrow night, they head back to Dallas and do battle with the Stars. Their previous encounter was on January 3rd when the Red Wings won 5-4.
About the Author: Alex lives in Hockeytown, USA. He is a huge Red Wings fan going back to the 1985-86 season when they were dead last with 40 points. He has seen the transition from the 'Dead Wings' to one of the top franchises in sports. You can also follow him at twitter.com/alexmuscat73.