NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, February 21st (All times eastern)
Detroit Red Wings (39-12-8) at Minnesota Wild (28-24-4), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - For a Minnesota Wild team that's in desperate need of a win right now, having to face the Detroit Red Wings isn't exactly the most ideal of matchups.
Minnesota brings a three-game losing streak into tonight's battle with the defending Stanley Cup champions, who will enter the XCel Energy Center on a strong February run.
The Red Wings ended January on a down note, losing a season-high five straight games, but have clearly righted the ship so far this month. Detroit has gone 8-1-1 since that skid and kept up its recent winning ways with Friday's 5-2 triumph over struggling Anaheim at Joe Louis Arena.
Henrik Zetterberg led the way with a goal and two assists, while Pavel Datsyuk scored once and set up Zetterberg's tally to help back a 24-save effort from goaltender Ty Conklin.
Last night's win followed a 6-2 home victory over Nashville on Wednesday, and the high-powered Red Wings have amassed 16 goals over their last three contests. Detroit leads the NHL with 226 goals for the season and currently sits just one point behind San Jose for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Minnesota's three-game slide started with a 4-2 loss to the Red Wings in Detroit on February 12, and the club has dropped home games to Ottawa and Calgary since that defeat. The Wild did manage to pick up a point their last time out, however, after falling in overtime to the Northwest Division-leading Flames on Thursday.
Adrian Aucoin scored with 1:10 remaining in the extra session to lift Calgary to a 3-2 win, despite Minnesota finishing the game with a 27-22 advantage in shots.
The Wild's Niklas Backstrom made just 19 saves on Thursday, five days after the All-Star netminder was pulled after two periods in a 5-3 loss to Ottawa. Backstrom stopped only 16-of-19 shots in that game.
While Backstrom has been in a funk as of late, Conklin appears to have overtaken slumping veteran Chris Osgood as Detroit's No. 1 goaltender. Conklin has won five straight starts and is 10-2-0 with a 1.98 goals against average and four shutouts over his last 13 appearances.
He'll likely be in net again tonight for the Red Wings, who have dominated this series in recent years. Detroit has won six of seven and 10 of the last 12 matchups between these teams and is 7-1 with a tie over its last nine visits to the XCel Energy Center.
In injury news, Wild forward Andrew Brunette left Thursday's loss in the first period with a sprained right knee and is questionable to play tonight. The 13- year veteran has played in 509 consecutive games, the longest active streak among NHL players.
02/21 10:41:19 ET