Jimmy Howard hopes these aren't the final days of a great rivalry, and most Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks fans agree. Sunday's 2-1 Chicago Blackhawks shootout victory had excitement and passion normally not seen in the regular season. The fact Chicago extended its point-streak to 22 consecutive games at the start of this season — and 28 dating back to last season — certainly fueled the excitement. Still, if NHL realignment goes into effect next season, one definite drawback to it would be the lessening of the Red Wings-Blackhawks rivalry. Because the two teams would be in separate conferences, they'd only play each other twice (instead of the current five games, six in a normal regular season). Howard, who was arguably the Red Wings' best player Sunday, hopes this isn't the end of this rivalry. "I hope not," said Howard, who made 31 saves. "It's always a fun games we play against each other. The games are always real tight and competitive. It doesn't matter if it's here or at the United Center (in Chicago), the crowd is always very lively." If the Red Wings had any chance to end the Blackhawks incredible point-streak, and the Wings most certainly did, it was because of Howard. The Red Wings goaltender was sensational, stopping 31 shots, including 21 in the first two periods when the Blackhawks dominated. "Howie played unbelievable," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "He kept us in the game the first half of the game. He was huge. He gave us every chance to still be in the game." From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130303/SPORTS0103/303030332#ixzz2MaUeE18Q