Devils-Red Wings Preview
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By TOM CASTRO
Though the Detroit Red Wings haven't exactly been on a tear, they're still picking up points nearly every game.
After ending a three-game losing streak, Detroit looks to continue its home domination of a New Jersey Devils team that's looking to avoid a fourth straight defeat Tuesday night.
The Red Wings (17-9-7) beat visiting Calgary 4-2 on Sunday to stop their skid, but it's not as if they've been desperate for points. Detroit has gone 9-1-6 in its last 16 and is among the league leaders with seven losses beyond regulation.
All but the first of those games have come during a home-heavy stretch that ends Tuesday. Including this contest, the Red Wings will have played 13 of the past 16 at Joe Louis Arena, going 7-1-4 there so far.
Detroit embarks on a stretch of nine of 10 on the road after this contest, which leads into the four-day Christmas break.
"You just want to win every game. And certainly we've had a large stretch here at home," coach Jeff Blashill said. "You want to make your road easier than harder, but you want to win every game. I feel real confident that we can go on the road and win. I think it has everything to do with our play.
"Now with that said, the building's been rocking. It's been great. The fans have been great. We understand that and we think this is one of the real momentum-building rinks in the league."
It certainly has been against the Devils, with Detroit winning three straight and 12 of the past 13 matchups at Joe Louis. The Red Wings dropped the last overall meeting 3-2 in overtime at New Jersey on Dec. 11, but they've gone 4-0-1 in the last five matchups and 11-2-2 in 15.
The Red Wings avoided working overtime against the Flames by scoring three straight goals in the second period, holding a 14-5 shot advantage in those 20 minutes. Dylan Larkin and Brad Richards scored 45 seconds apart midway through the second.
"Our second period was the way we have to play hockey to be successful," Blashill said.
Detroit got the puck out of its end quickly, forechecked hard and created turnovers to keep pressure on the Flames in the pivotal period.
Petr Mrazek made 26 saves in giving up two goals for the third straight start. He's expected to yield to Jimmy Howard, who has two shootout losses and an overtime defeat in his past three outings.
New Jersey (16-13-5) hasn't been nearly as successful at salvaging points lately, going 1-3-1 in its last five. The Devils have gone cold offensively, scoring five goals in that span after totaling 17 in a 3-0-2 stretch that preceded this one.
They did manage not to come away empty handed Sunday, losing 2-1 in a shootout at Boston. Cory Schneider made 38 saves - nine in overtime - but New Jersey scored once in the second period despite recording 13 shots.
"We took it to them a lot in that game and it's tough not getting that second point, but we are happy with our effort," center Travis Zajac said.
New Jersey's 2.26 goals per game is among the lowest marks in the NHL.
"I thought it was a real good game by us; it's unfortunate it has to be decided by the shootout but that's the way it is, and we take this game in Detroit and most nights we're gonna get that second point," said defenseman Andy Greene, who had the Devils' goal.
Updated December 21, 2015