February 14, 2012
Red Wings masters of their domainDetroit sets NHL mark with 21 straight wins at home
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
DETROIT - As if his hockey career hasn't already taken enough twists and turns, Joey MacDonald has gone from the couch to the NHL record books.
MacDonald, a journeyman goaltender, backstopped the Detroit Red Wings to a record-settiing win Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena.
The Wings defeated the Dallas Stars 3-1. It was the 21st win in succession at home for Detroit, breaking the mark of 20 set by the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and the 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers.
The Red Wings last lost a game at home Nov. 3, a 4-1 contest to the Calgary Flames.
As unlikely as the record is, it’s nowhere near as unlikely as MacDonald being in net to set it.
“Two weeks ago I was home on the couch watching them win their 17th in a row on TV,” MacDonald said. “There was no way I would have imagined being in net for any of it.”
MacDonald was playing in Grand Rapids when Wings starting netminder Jimmy Howard, who had been in net for the 17 previous wins, broke a finger.
Some didn't believe the Wings -- or their streak -- would survive after Howard's injury. Backup Ty Conklin was inconsistent. So the call went out to MacDonald.
Since his call up, MacDonald has won four in a row -- all at Joe Louis Arena -- with a goals-against average of less than two.
No one expected the 31-year-old with a resume that looks like a Greyhound travel map would play such a big role in the record chase.
“They didn’t have a lot of shots or chances but when they had some good ones, Joey stepped up and made the save,” said Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg.
Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom was happy for MacDonald.
“He’s worked really hard since he’s gotten here,” Lidstrom said. “He made some big saves when we needed them.”
MacDonald made 20 saves Tuesday, losing his shutout bid to Adam Burish after the Stars winger scored with 33 seconds left in the game.
Most of the Stars’ shots were from poor angles and the few times they did get good chances MacDonald was solid.
Zetterberg, Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler scored for the Wings.
It wasn’t the Wings' most spectacular win, but it was hard-earned. By the end of the night the fans at The Joe were cheering as loud as if it was a playoff game.
The chant “Joey, Joey” reverberated through the building like the many times “Ozzie, Ozzie” did for former Wings netminder Chris Osgoode in the past.
MacDonald gave away his stick to a fan and the players saluted the crowd.
It was really one of the first obvious displays of emotion the team has shown during the record run. For the most part, it has been business as usual.
“I think the last four or five minutes, it was a playoff-like atmosphere,” MacDonald said. “We were pumped in here and (the fans) were pumped out there.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock says he has never mentioned the record to the team and they hadn’t talked about it.
Despite the streak that has left the Wings first overall in the NHL, the team is having trouble shaking its Western Conference competitor.
“I think it’s maybe been secondary to us until maybe two or three games ago,” Zetterberg said. “We still remained focused on getting two points.”
Babcock did acknowledge that the record was nice to get.
“We’re thrilled this has happened to our team,” Babcock said. “I think it’s really good for our logo, it’s really good for our ownership, our team. They’ve worked hard.
“Now let’s get on with it.”