DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are rolling again with a double-digit points lead over the rest of the NHL.
Pavel Datsyuk scored a go-ahead goal late in the second period after Chris Osgood stopped Robert Lang’s penalty shot, and Detroit went on to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 Tuesday night. The Red Wings have won four straight after enduring their worst slump in nearly two decades.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock, though, is not satisfied.
“We’ve still got to ratchet it up,” Babcock said. “It’s nice to see we’ve won four in a row, getting our confidence back, but we still have a long ways to go.”
Before Detroit’s current winning streak, the Red Wings had won only one of 11 games in what was their worst skid since going 12 games without a win in 1989.
“I didn’t even play here then,” joked Kirk Maltby, a Red Wing since 1996. “We definitely learned that we don’t like losing, so it’s nice to get back to doing the little things that help us win.”
Maltby scored in the first period, Johan Franzen added an empty-net goal in the final minute and Osgood finished with 19 saves.
If it wasn’t for goalie Corey Crawford, the game likely would’ve been a rout.
Crawford kept Chicago in it with 44 saves, playing just his sixth career game and fourth this season.
“He was outstanding,” coach Denis Savard said. “He gave us a chance to win.”
Crawford deflected credit for his sensational night.
“I don’t think they had too many rebound chances,” he said. “The guys did a good job.”
Chicago’s Rene Bourque tied the game 1-1 midway through the first period, about two minutes after Maltby scored.
The Blackhawks were 10-5-1 heading into the game, giving themselves a chance to rally for a playoff spot.
“We knew they were going to give it everything they had because they’re fighting to get in the post-season,” Maltby said. “And if they get in, we might play them so we wanted to be sharp.
“They’ve got a lot of young guys that really seem to give us problems.”
Detroit has won two straight in the series after losing the first four to the Blackhawks.
Chicago defenceman James Wisniewski might be disciplined by the league because he was ejected late in the first period for cross-checking Mikael Samuelsson in his neck area.
Wisniewski was not available for comment when reporters had access to the dressing room.
Notes: In his 1,000th game, Dallas Drake got his 300th assist by knocking a Blackhawk off the puck and setting up Maltby’s goal with a pass from behind the net. The assist came shortly after Drake’s milestone was announced to the crowd during a stoppage of play. “Maybe I should get them to do that more often,” he joked. … On Chicago’s goal, Dave Bolland and Cameron Barker were credited with assists. … Datsyuk extended his points streak to seven games. … Red Wings D Chris Chelios returned to the lineup after missing six games with a knee injury. … Detroit signed RW Dan Cleary to a US$14 million, five-year contract.