DETROIT – Home ice has never been more of an advantage to the Red Wings than it has over the last 2 1/2 months.
Jimmy Howard and Henrik Zetterberg led Detroit to its 15th straight victory at home, breaking a franchise record set in 1965 with a 5-0 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.
The Red Wings have the longest single-season winning streak by an NHL team at home since 1976 when Philadelphia won 20 in a row to match a league mark set by Boston during the 1929-30 season, according to STATS, LLC.
Detroit is 18-2-1 overall at home—where it hasn’t lost since Nov. 3, 2011—after posting a lacklustre 21-14-6 mark in the Motor City last season.
Howard said the team could only enjoy the feat until boarding a plane later in the night.
“We have to start thinking about Dallas,” Howard said after making 27 saves for his fifth shutout and NHL-high 27th victory. “We haven’t done as well as we want on the road.”
The Red Wings, who are 11-13 on the road, play at Dallas on Tuesday night and visit Phoenix before returning home to play Columbus on Saturday.
Detroit, though, has been very tough to beat in Joe Louis Arena this season.
“We got booed sometimes last season here and that was pretty embarrassing,” Red Wings forward Drew Miller said. “We’ve really made playing at home better one of our goals this season and so far, so good.”
Zetterberg scored the first of Detroit’s three goals in the opening period, Todd Bertuzzi had a goal and two assists and Pavel Datsyuk set up three straight scores to give him 700 career points.
“It’s tough playing catch-up hockey in this league,” Howard said.
The Sabres have lost a franchise-record nine straight road games in regulation and Ryan Miller doesn’t think a magical move from the front office could make a difference.
“There’s not ever going to be a trade in the history of the NHL that’s going to change something like this,” Miller said.
The standout goaltender was benched early in the second after giving up goals to Zetterberg, Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen, Nicklas Lidstrom and Darren Helm.
Drew Miller made a cross-ice pass that left his brother, Ryan, out of position to stop Helm’s shot and ended his night.
“It’s tough—I never want to see him get pulled like that,” Drew Miller said. “He didn’t have a chance on that goal or a couple others, but he’s still one of the best goalies in the league.”
The Millers grew up in East Lansing, Mich., and played at Michigan State.
“It’s embarrassing,” Ryan Miller said. “I got family and friends and everybody coming to watch Drew and I play. They watched Drew perform.”
On Detroit’s second shot, Zetterberg got the puck past Miller and ended his 13-game, goal-scoring drought.
Howard stopped a flurry of shots late in the opening period, including Drew Stafford’s shot that went off his mask, and responded well to one of the rare offensive surges from Buffalo.
Howard was handed a three-goal cushion when Franzen and Lidstrom scored in a 1:32 span off assists from Datsyuk.
“It had to be deflating for them because we hadn’t done much,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
Early in the second, Datsyuk snatched the puck away from defenceman Mike Weber behind the net and got the puck to Bertuzzi, who had enough time in front of the net to do a spin move and shot the puck past Miller. Helm scored 13 second later to chase Miller, who gave up five goals on 14 shots, and put Jhnoas Enroth in net.
Since Buffalo’s last road win on Dec. 3, 2011, at Nashville, the Sabres are 5-10-4 overall and have slumped to a sub-.500 record overall. Buffalo has had 20 players miss games with injuries this season and just four players who started the season with the team have avoided being scratched because of an injury.
The Sabres will attempt to stop their losing streak on the road Wednesday night at Chicago in the third of a seven-game road trip.
“We’ve got to wake up,” Buffalo forward Jason Pominville said.
NOTES: The RedWings won 14 straight at home in 1965 when they played at Olympia Stadium. … Buffalo’s longest road winless streak is a 23-game skid during the 1971-72 season.