NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 2nd (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Wild (28-26-10) at Detroit Red Wings (42-19-3), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Minus two stars, the Red Wings nearly saw their losing streak extended on Tuesday against the NHL's worst club. Instead, a third- period rally may have Detroit back on track.
The Central Division co-leaders try to reclaim sole possession of first place and end their new-found home struggles in a battle with the struggling Minnesota Wild.
Riding a three-game skid, the Red Wings fell behind by a goal to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday early in the third before erupting for four straight goals en route to a 5-2 victory. Niklas Kronwall had the game-tying goal just 1:30 after the Blue Jackets took the lead, Henrik Zetterberg had the game- winner and Jan Mursak and Valtteri Filppula also lit the lamp.
"I thought we had really good energy in the first and the third," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. "As long as we were willing to shoot the puck, good things happened."
Kronwall added a pair of assists and Johan Franzen also scored for Detroit. Backup Joey MacDonald made 28 saves for a Red Wings club that is tied with the Blues for first place in the Central Division with 87 points. That is three back of the Canucks for the most in the NHL.
Detroit will try to close that gap tonight, but will do so once again without defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and forward Pavel Datsyuk. Lidstrom suffered a bone bruise in his right ankle last Saturday versus Colorado and isn't expected to return this weekend, while Datsyuk is out following knee surgery.
Defenseman Kyle Quincey sat out Tuesday's win with a sore groin, but did practice on Thursday. He is questionable for this contest.
Detroit will also be looking to avoid a third straight home defeat. That 0-1-1 skid comes on the heels of an NHL-record 23-game winning streak at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings are 26-3-2 as the host this season.
The Wild also put together an exciting rally their last time out, but only came away with one point. Facing the Canadiens last night, Minnesota scored three goals in the final 3:53 of the third to force overtime before eventually dropping a 5-4 shootout decision.
Matt Kassian started the rally with his second goal of the game -- and second of his career -- Dany Heatley tallied and Devin Setoguchi tied the game with 10 seconds left. Still, Minnesota has lost 10 of its past 13 games and sit five points back of a playoff spot.
Niklas Backstrom started the game in net and stopped 5-of-6 shots before exiting in the first period with a lower-body injury. Josh Harding stopped 19 shots in relief.
"It's too bad, we couldn't get that two points because I was really impressed and happy with the way our guys battled in the third period," Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo said. "We overcame a lot of adversity, a tough call early in the game. We were down 5-3 for an extended period of time and then we lose our starting goalie with a lower back injury. Then we did a lot of good things to come back."
Minnesota has lost five of its past six on the road overall, but has taken two of its past three in Detroit. That includes a 2-1 overtime triumph in the past encounter on Nov. 1, with Setoguchi netting the game-winner.
That triumph was the Wild's second in a row following a four-game series losing streak.
03/02 10:40:52 ET