It's been over three months since the Red Wings last tasted defeat in the Motor City and Detroit has rattled off 17 straight wins at the Joe since losing to Calgary on Nov. 3. The home mark is already a franchise record and is also the longest such streak in the NHL since the 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers tied the league mark with 20 straight wins at The Spectrum.
Detroit, which is 20-2-1 at home this season, hasn't hosted a game since before the All-Star break and recently went 2-2-1 on a five-game road trip. The recent swing brought the Red Wings' road record to 15-15-1 on the year,
Like the Red Wings, tonight's opponent also has done the majority of its damage on home ice. The Oilers are 6-19-2 as the guest his year compared to a 15-8-3 home record and Edmonton has lost seven straight and 14 of its last 15 away from Rexall Place.
However, the Red Wings lost the last two games of their recent road trip, including a shootout defeat in Edmonton on Saturday. Detroit, which leads the Central Division by three points over Nashville and St. Louis, followed up the 5-4 setback to the Oilers with Monday's regulation loss at Phoenix.
Martin Hanzal scored twice to lead the Coyotes to a 3-1 win over the visiting Red Wings, who are also just one point ahead of Vancouver for the top seed in the West. Johan Franzen provided the lone offense for the Red Wings, while Joey MacDonald made his first start since March 30 and absorbed the loss despite giving up just two goals on 22 shots as he was outdueled by Phoenix netminder Mike Smith.
"We had some good scoring chances in the third there," said MacDonald. "We put some pressure on [Smith] and it was a 2-1 game. We just have to have a little more I think."
MacDonald and Ty Conklin will handle Detroit's goaltending duties while regular starter Jimmy Howard recovers from a broken right index finger. Howard suffered the injury in Vancouver last Thursday and is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks. Howard was in the midst of his best season as an NHLer, going 32-11-1 with a .924 save percentage, a 2.03 goals-against average and five shutouts.
Detroit hopes to have defenseman Brad Stuart back tonight after he sat out Monday's game with flu-like symptoms. The veteran blueliner has four goals, seven assists and a plus-11 rating in 53 games this year.
Edmonton has not fared well in recent years against the Red Wings and when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the decisive goal in the shootout phase of Saturday's 5-4 win, it ended a seven-game skid in this series for the Oilers. The club has still lost four straight and six of its last seven in Motown.
Nugent-Hopkins won't be available to deliver any dramatic goals tonight, as the rookie sensation will be sidelined 7-to-10 days with a sprained shoulder. The 18-year-old recently returned to the lineup after missing a month with a left shoulder injury suffered at Chicago on January 2.
"It's the same shoulder, but a different injury," Nugent-Hopkins said on the team's Twitter account. "It's not close to my first shoulder injury. Hopefully, I can be back soon."
Nugent-Hopkins played in two games before his latest setback and despite the amount of time he's missed recently, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft still leads all rookies in assists (22) and points (35).
The injury to Nugent-Hopkins occurred in Edmonton's 6-3 loss in Toronto on Monday. Phil Kessel tallied twice and added one assist to lead the Maple Leafs to the easy win.
Jordan Eberle scored a pair of goals and Jeff Petry picked up a goal and one helper for the Oilers, who had a three-game winning streak halted and are 11 points out of a playoff spot in the West. Devan Dubnyk allowed five goals on 29 shots for the loss.
"We turned a lot of pucks over and gave them a ton of chances," lamented Eberle. "When you give them all that, they'll put pucks in the net eventually no matter how well your goaltender plays."
In addition to Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers defenseman Theo Peckham is also on the shelf. Peckham has missed the last three games after getting hit in the face with a puck during practice and is questionable for tonight.