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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, October 29th (All times eastern)

Detroit Red Wings (5-3-0) at Minnesota Wild (3-3-3), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Wild head coach Mike Yeo isn't putting the blame of his team's slow start on the shoulders of any one player. Still, the club's stars know they need to step up their game if they want to avoid a fifth loss in six outings.

Minnesota aims for a little revenge over the visiting Detroit Red Wings tonight at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild are off to a 3-3-3 start as they wait for some of their key players to get going. Captain Mikko Koivu has yet to score in nine games this year, logging four assists, while offseason additions Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi have combined for five goals.

Setoguchi did have an assist in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Ducks, giving him a goal and two helpers over his last three games.

The rough start has been tough on Koivu, a three-time 20-goal scorer, but Yeo came to the center's defense after the most recent loss that dropped Minnesota to 2-2-3 in its last seven.

"As far as Mikko goes, I think that might have been his best game tonight," Yeo said of his captain. "I thought he was an absolute horse. First period ... he was good. Second and third period, that's the best that he's played in the offensive zone and the emotion he had on the bench and in the game. He probably could have had six points tonight if things had gone differently."

While Minnesota scored both of its goals on the power play, it also allowed two goals while being shorthanded six times. That made things tough on goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who ended with 13 saves.

"We played really well, but we have to be better on the penalty kill," Backstrom said. "Our special teams are not good enough."

Jared Spurgeon's power-play goal snapped Minnesota's 0-for-20 skid on the man advantage and Matt Cullen also lit the lamp while up a man as the Wild twice got within a goal.

The Wild will also visit the Red Wings to wrap this home-and-home set on Tuesday, but the clubs won't conclude their four-game series until March 2 in Detroit. Minnesota lost a 3-2 overtime decision at home to the Red Wings on Oct. 15, with Detroit's Johan Franzen scoring on the power play late in OT.

Greg Zanon had one of Minnesota's goals, but missed his second straight game on Thursday. He is likely to land on injured reserve with a groin injury and with Clayton Stoner also likely out tonight because of hand injury, the Wild are expected to recall defenseman Nate Prosser from the minors.

Detroit, which has won four in a row and six of its last seven overall versus Minnesota, looks to rebound after last night's 4-2 defeat to San Jose. It was the first meeting between the clubs since the Red Wings nearly rebounded from a 3-0 deficit in last year's Western Conference semifinals only to lose 3-2 in Game 7.

Henrik Zetterberg scored his first goal in six games and Tomas Holmstrom also lit the lamp for the Red Wings, who have lost three in a row after winning their first five games of the season. They have been outscored 15-4 in that span.

"We needed to get a win here tonight, anyway you look at it. Suddenly we've lost three in a row and those things start to pile up on you," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said.

Jimmy Howard made 26 saves for Detroit, which opens a six-game homestand in Tuesday's meeting.

The Red Wings have won three in a row and seven of their last nine at Minnesota.

10/29 10:34:33 ET


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