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Red Wings aim to extend recent run at home vs. Sens
DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings have been playing better at home lately, and they host the Ottawa Senators at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday.
Detroit has struggled on home ice the past two seasons but has won three in a row at home for the first time since last Jan. 14-18. The most recent triumph was a 4-1 decision over the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Year's Eve.
Right winger Gustav Nyquist scored twice against the Penguins, including the 100th of his career.
"It was nice to see the crowd get into it," Nyquist said after the game. "That just helps us, it's just a positive when the crowd gets loud and gives us energy. They were great tonight."
The Red Wings are 15-16-7 and currently out of the playoff picture.
Coach Jeff Blashill thinks his team has deserved better.
"On a night by night basis, we've either been even or out-chanced our opponents. That generally translates into more wins than what we've had," Blashill told the Detroit Free Press Tuesday after practice. "I see us playing the type of hockey that I know we are going to have to play to be successful, and that's managing the puck better, being a better forecheck team, being willing to put pucks behind people
"We still have to go out and win games. I think we are in a spot where we can continue to build as a team and in doing so, continue to win more games."
Defenseman Mike Green says Detroit's transition game has improved.
"Moving the puck out of our zone has really improved," he said. "And then we've really focused on our forecheck lately and it's been working."
Ottawa (12-17-8) are even farther out of the playoff race than Detroit. It is 12 back of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot and 16 behind third-place Toronto in Atlantic Division.
The Senators lost 5-0 at home to the Boston Bruins on Saturday for their fourth loss in five games for a final December record of 4-14-3.
"It starts at the top. Our best players haven't been our best players and it's a trickle-down effect," Ottawa winger Mark Stone said on Sportsnet.ca. "Guys see top players cheat and they do too."
Stone has been one of the Senators' few bright spots this season. He has 15 goals and a team-leading 34 points and has emerged as a team leader after being named an alternate captain at the beginning of the season.
"He's one of those guys that leadership just comes naturally," Ottawa right winger Bobby Ryan said about Stone. "It's not always about what you say, whether it be media or in the room or anything like that, it's just about your actions and in (Mark) you have a guy that recognizes that if you're going to lead by example."
Craig Anderson is expected to get the start in goal for Ottawa on Wednesday night.
Red Wings right winger Anthony Mantha is expected to return to the lineup against the Senators after missing two games with a groin injury. Detroit captain and center Henrik Zetterberg didn't practice on Tuesday but Blashill said it was just a maintenance day and said Zetterberg would play Wednesday.
Updated January 3, 2018