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
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
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
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