Chicago came into the game only four points behind the first place Red Wings and dominated early, outshooting Detroit 12-1 in the first 9:21. James Wisniewski hit the goal post during a power play a little over seven minutes in. Conklin, who earned his third shutout this season, made several outstanding saves to keep the game scoreless.
"The defense was outstanding, especially on the penalty kill," Conklin said. "I think it was big to get out of there (the two early penalties) tied 0-0."
Pavel Datsyuk added a goal and an assist, Tomas Kopecky scored his second of the season, and Brian Rafalski and Niklas Kronwall each had two assists in the Red Wings' 700th game against the Blackhawks.
"They played better the first 10 (minutes)," Franzen said. "We got a couple of penalties, and Conks made some big saves to keep us in the game ... We took over later."
It was the second time in less than two weeks that Detroit shut out a surging team. The Red Wings and Conklin defeated the San Jose Sharks, who have the NHL's best record, 6-0 at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 18.
"You've got to play well against the good teams," Franzen said. "We kind of need that on this team to get motivated."
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 35 shots for Chicago in the start of a home-and-home series that will conclude Thursday outside at Wrigley Field in the Winter Classic. The Blackhawks had earned at least one point in 11 consecutive games.
"I thought it was the perfect start. Not scoring didn't help us," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said the team looked the same as it had during the winning streak but the quality of the opponent made the difference.
"We played the way we've played the past few games," he said, "but we played a better team."
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Conklin would start Thursday because Chris Osgood is still nursing a sore groin. Conklin also started the NHL's previous two outdoor games. He was with Edmonton when it hosted the Montreal Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium in November 2003, and was in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they beat the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout at Ralph Wilson Stadium last New Year's Day.
"I think it's going to be a lot of fun. Both team realize the importance of it," Conklin said. "It's more than a run of the mill regular-season game."
Datsyuk's power-play goal with 4:09 left in the first period opened the scoring. He beat Khabibulin with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle, with Tomas Holmstrom providing a screen, for his 15th goal. Datsyuk also won 14 of 18 faceoffs.
"It's my job," he said. "It helps when we want to handle the puck, and especially on the power play to get the puck back."
Franzen's power-play goal made it 2-0 at 6:58 of second. He beat Khabibulin from the bottom of the right circle high to the short side.
"The power play was the difference," Franzen said.
Franzen netted his second of the night and 17th of the season just 37 seconds into the third when he jammed the puck through Khabibulin's pads.
Kopecky scored with 7:55 left.
- Detroit D Nicklas Lidstrom missed his second game due to a sore ankle.
- Chicago D Cam Barker didn't play because of a lower body injury.
- Red Wings RW Mikael Samuelsson missed the game because of the flu.
- Holmstrom went to the locker room after getting hit by a shot in the face with about 1:15 left in the second period. He returned for the third.
- Datsyuk stretched his point streak to eight games (7 goals, 9 assists).
- Red Wings D Chris Chelios, the oldest player in the NHL at 46, played in his third game of the season.