Blackhawks visit rival Red Wings aiming for 9th straight win
(Sports Network) - The last time that the Chicago Blackhawks faced the Detroit Red Wings, they picked up a victory that gave them their best start in franchise history.
Just over a month later, the Blackhawks have put together a season-opening run unlike any other in NHL history and they look to extend their 21-game point streak in Sunday's afternoon clash with the rival Red Wings.
Chicago posted its first ever 6-0-0 start when it bested visiting Detroit 2-1 in overtime back on Jan. 27. It was the Blackhawks' fourth straight victory over the Red Wings and the ninth in the past 12 meetings.
Though the Blackhawks suffered their first loss of the season three days later in Minnesota, a 3-2 shootout setback to the Wild, they haven't tasted defeat very often this season and have yet to do so in 60 minutes.
Chicago's 18-0-3 start is an NHL record for consecutive points to begin a season and its run actually extends to 27 straight regular-season games dating back to last season. The 'Hawks haven't lost in regulation since March 25 of last year.
That 27-game point streak is one shy of the second-longest run in NHL history, put together by the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens.
The Blackhawks kept their current run alive on Friday night with a 4-3 overtime victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brent Seabrook put home the game-winner with 1:37 left on the clock, finishing off a rush on a pass from captain Jonathan Toews.
"It was a great pass by Tazer," said Seabrook, referring to Toews. "I just tried to get up on the play and it was sort of a scramble along the boards. Tazer had some speed going up and I just tried to get up and help out and he made a great pass."
Chicago's Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead with goals 59 seconds apart in the second period. Ray Emery made 19 saves as the Blackhawks won their eighth straight overall. They haven't won nine in a row since Dec. 7-28, 2008.
Emery got the start one night after relieving Corey Crawford because of an upper body injury following the first period of a win over the St. Louis Blues. Crawford served as the backup versus the last-place Blue Jackets, who the 'Hawks beat in all three meetings this season by a single goal each time.
"There's no easy games in this league and you can never take a night off," said Seabrook. "I thought we fought hard tonight on the second part of a back- to-back and it was good to get the win."
The Blackhawks are 7-0-1 in their past eight in Detroit, where the Red Wings have gone 7-4-1 this season compared to 3-4-2 as the guest. The Red Wings are coming off a road win however, having bested the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in a shootout on Thursday.
Patrick Eaves scored the regulation goal and Damien Brunner had the only shootout tally. Jonas Gustavsson made 25 saves and stopped all three skaters he faced in the deciding session as he made his first start of the season.
Gustavsson, who has battled a groin injury for most of the season, also made his first start since May 27 while with Toronto. Detroit No. 1 netminder Jimmy Howard has started 18 of the 21 games this season.
"I was real excited to play today," Gustavsson said. "You play because you want to win. That's the best feeling you can have. The guys really helped me a lot today. They made it easier for me."
The Red Wings have won three of their last four following a five-game slide and begin a three-game homestand with this game.
Chicago's Marian Hossa, who spent the 2008-09 season with the Red Wings and tallied 40 goals with 71 points, is slated to play in his 1,000th career game.
03/03 07:43:45 ET