DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are good enough to beat teams at home even if they don’t get help from their opponents.
St. Louis took two costly penalties, retaliating for hard hits, and the Red Wings took advantage.
Pavel Datsyuk tied the game early in the second period on the power play, and Niklas Kronwall sealed the victory late in the third as Detroit beat the Blues 3-1 on Monday night for its 17th straight home win—the NHL’s longest single-season streak in 36 years.
“We have such a calm team,” said Jimmy Howard, who made 21 saves for his league-leading 30th win. “Nothing seems to rattle us.”
The Red Wings’ spurt is the league’s fourth longest. Detroit (33-15-1) has won seven in a row overall and leads the NHL with 67 points.
“Winning never gets old,” Howard said.
Detroit is three home wins away from matching the league record of 20 straight, set by the Boston Bruins during the 1929-30 season, and matched by Philadelphia in 1976. The Bruins also won 19 consecutive in Boston during the 1970-71 season.
Detroit is 20-2-1 in Joe Louis Arena this season and hasn’t lost there since Nov. 3. The Red Wings were 21-14-6 at home last season.
St. Louis had won four straight, and lost in regulation for the first time since a Dec. 31 defeat at Detroit.
“We played good in stretches, but we crumbled when things got tight,” Blues forward Jamie Langenbrunner said. “We got those retaliatory penalties. That takes away our momentum and gets us out of our comfort zone.”
Jaroslav Halak, who had won a career-high seven in a row, made 25 saves.
Scott Nichol put the Blues ahead midway through the first period, but they couldn’t get the puck past Howard again.
The Blues are 23-6-6 since coach Ken Hitchcock replaced the fired Davis Payne, when the team was 6-7, and have become a contender in the tightly contested Western Conference and Central Division.
The Blues didn’t back down from the Red Wings in the intense game, which was very chippy throughout.
“It appeared to me that they thought they could be physical with us,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
St. Louis controlled play early and took advantage of Red Wings defencemen, who went to the bench, thinking the puck had been cleared from their end of the rink. A pair of forwards also ran into each other near centre ice. Nichol netted his second goal of the season at the end of a 3-on-1 rush.
Blues forward Chris Stewart picked a fight with Detroit’s Brad Stuart late in the first period after the defenceman landed a check that put Alex Pietrangelo on his back.
Stewart was given a penalty for instigating and a 10- minute misconduct, but didn’t regret it because he said Pietrangelo has to be protected.
“I have no problem doing that,” Stewart said. “That was definitely more playoff hockey. Physical from the start. Trying to set the tone against a rival and somebody who you’ll probably face in the playoffs.”
Detroit’s power play carried into the second period, and the Red Wings tied the game. Datsyuk deked Pietrangelo to set up a backhanded shot that Halak didn’t see until the puck was in the net, in part because forward Tomas Holmstrom screened the goalie from in front of the crease.
Franzen scored off a rebound midway through the second period to put the Red Wings ahead 2-1.
“It was a playoff game,” Hitchcock said. “Their best players were their best players and scored when they needed to.”
Halak gave St. Louis a shot to stay in the game, denying Detroit on a 3-on-1 rush early in the third period, but Kronwall effectively ended the game with 3:03 left soon after Carlo Colaiacovo was called for roughing.
“I think they picked it up in the second period and we got discouraged when they took the lead,” St. Louis forward Patrik Berglund said.
NOTES: Halak, who was 11-0-3 in his previous 14 starts, didn’t play in any of the earlier matchups between the teams this season. Detroit and St. Louis split their four games, winning two each at home. … The Red Wings’ seven-game winning streak matches their longest of the season. They had won the previous three in shootouts. … Nichol played in his 600th NHL game. … Kronwall matched his career high with 11 goals.