DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are losing track of how many games in a row they’ve won at home.
Detroit won its 23rd straight at Joe Louis Arena, setting an NHL multiple-season mark for home dominance by holding on to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 Sunday.
“Where are we at with the streak?” asked Drew Miller, who scored for the Red Wings. “The streak is cool, but we’re more concerned with how we’re playing and to keep our spot in the race.”
The Red Wings won their sixth straight game, all in a homestand, and have an NHL-high 84 points.
Detroit, which broke the league’s single-season record of 20 on Tuesday, surpassed the 22 wins in a row the Boston Bruins had over two seasons more than eight decades ago.
“We’ve got a good thing going, but we need to take it on the road,” Miller said.
The Red Wings have won nearly 90 per cent of their games at home and are .500 away from Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who has been out two-plus weeks with a broken right index finger, will start in the next game Tuesday night at Chicago.
Joey MacDonald, the team’s third-string goaltender when Howard was hurt, made 31 saves for his sixth straight win.
MacDonald planned to sleep at his Motor City hotel Sunday night, not knowing if he would wake up and head to play for the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins or stay with the Red Wings.
“Whatever decision they make, I’ll be happy with it,” MacDonald insisted. “If I do get sent down, I’ll go do the same thing.”
Howard wasn’t rushed back because MacDonald took full advantage of his chance to play ahead of backup Ty Conklin.
“If things weren’t going good, Howie would’ve been in two or three games ago,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “It has worked out real well.”
Henrik Zetterberg and Miller gave Detroit a two-goal lead midway through the second period and Darren Helm restored the two-goal edge 7:01 into the third.
Logan Couture scored late in the second period for the Sharks and Patrick Marleau pulled them within a goal with 4:44 left.
The Pacific Division-leading Sharks have lost six of eight.
“We were much happier with the effort,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “But it is still a loss and we can’t get caught up in satisfaction points.”
San Jose’s Antti Niemi gave up a goal on the second shot he faced and finished with 25 saves.
The Red Wings snapped a five-game losing streak against San Jose in the regular season, beating a team that has eliminated them in the second round in each of the past two post-seasons.
“We have a lot of rivals, but that’s the one we seem to play a lot in the playoffs,” Zetterberg said. “So, you want to win each game against them.”
As Sharks captain Joe Thornton was leaving the arena, someone said he’d see him again in Detroit for the playoffs.
“Absolutely,” Thornton said with a beaming smile.
Detroit got off to a good start against the Sharks, getting goals from Zetterberg 6:30 into the game and Miller midway through the second, but it wasn’t easy to beat them as usual.
Couture was credited for a goal after video review that bounced off the top of the net and appeared to be whacked into the net by Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader on a power play with 5:27 left in the second period.
Miller’s centring pass set up Helm for a shot from the slot in the third. Later in the period, Marleau finished off a goal-mouth scramble by stuffing the puck past MacDonald.
“I thought we had them on their heels a lot,” Thornton said. “If we play like that, we’ll be fine. It felt like we had a lot more chances, but obviously they won.”
San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game with a cut on his nose, getting hit by a deflected puck. Teammates Joe Pavelski and Colin White were hurt by blocking shots.
“You’re real proud that they sacrifice themselves, but then you’re worried about their health,” McLellan said.
As much as the Red Wings count on stars such as Zetterberg, its third and fourth-line forwards—and third-string goalie—have helped them extend their streak at home.
“That’s our secret,” Zetterberg said.
NOTES: The NHL’s second-longest winning streak at home this season is eight, shared by Calgary and Colorado. The second-longest active streak at home is five, shared by St. Louis and Phoenix. … In the shootout’s seven-season era, the previous mark for the longest home winning streak was 14 by Boston during the 2008-09 season. … Detroit’s next home game is Thursday night against Vancouver. … The Sharks beat Detroit 5-2 in their previous meeting and won 4-2 at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 28.