Owners of the longest home winning streak in the NHL since 1970s, the Detroit Red Wings will try to post a third straight win on the road when they visit the Montreal Canadiens tonight at the Bell Centre.
The Red Wings have won seven straight overall and Mike Babcock's club picked up its 17th straight home win Monday against St. Louis. It's the longest such streak in the NHL since the 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers tied the league mark with 20 straight wins at The Spectrum.
However, while Detroit has compiled an amazing 20-2-1 record at home this season, the Wings have been plain mediocre on the road, posting a 13-13 mark away from the Motor City. With tonight's test marking the first stop on a five-game road trip, the Red Wings are hoping wins in each of their last two away games is the start of something good as the guest.
Tonight's test marks the final NHL game before this weekend's All-Star festivities in Ottawa and the Red Wings are assured of entering the break with the best record in the league. Detroit leads the NHL with 67 points, but is just two ahead of St. Louis for the Central Division lead.
Montreal, meanwhile, has suffered through a disappointing first-half of the season and is currently tied for with three other teams for the lowest seed in the Eastern Conference with 45 points through 48 games.
Detroit extended its club record home winning streak with a 3-1 victory over the Blues. Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and an assist and Jimmy Howard stopped 21 shots for the Red Wings, who won't play on home ice again until Feb. 8, when Detroit hosts Edmonton to start a six-game homestand. The Red Wings haven't lost at home since November 3 against Calgary.
"We weren't able to play at the level they wanted to play at the beginning," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "It took us about 10 minutes to get things going and then I thought we played good."
The Canadiens last played on Saturday, when they ended a two-game slide with a win in Toronto. Rene Bourque notched his first goal in a Montreal uniform and Carey Price turned away 32 shots to lift the Habs to the 3-1 victory over the rival Maple Leafs.
Raphael Diaz and Lars Eller scored in the third period for the Habs, who had dropped five of six heading into Saturday's game.
"We played a textbook road game. The guys played well in front of me," said Price. "We pretty much shut them down. We didn't give them a whole lot of opportunities."
Price is expected to get the start tonight despite suffering a cut on his toe following Saturday's game in Toronto. The Habs No. 1 goaltender cut himself on his own skate blade while speaking to the media in the locker room and received stitches to close the wound.
"It was just a little cut that needed some stitches. It was just on a spot on my foot where I had a lot of pressure so I just needed a couple of days to let it close," Price told his club's official website.
Price, who was named to this year's All-Star game, is 1-2-1 with a 2.45 goals- against average in four career games against the Red Wings.
Montreal is just 8-9-7 as the host this year and the Habs will play five of their next six on home ice beginning tonight. The Canadiens will host Buffalo next Tuesday in their first game following the All-Star break.
Detroit has taken two straight, four of five and seven of the last 10 meetings with the Canadiens. The Red Wings have also claimed two in a row and four of the last five road tests against their Original Six rivals.