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(Saturday, March 22nd)
Final Score: Detroit 3, Minnesota 2
St. Paul, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - Gustav Nyquist notched the game winner early in the third period, as Detroit topped Minnesota by a 3-2 count to open a home-and-home series at Xcel Energy Center.
Brendan Smith and David Legwand also tallied, while Jimmy Howard stopped 28 shots for the Red Wings, who have won three in a row and look for a sweep on Sunday back in Detroit.
"The young guys are playing and they are starting to believe in themselves more," noted Howard. "It's a fun time of year because they're showing what they have and the future looks bright."
Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle supplied the offense for the Wild, who have dropped four of their last five. Darcy Kuemper took the loss despite making 27 saves.
Coyle knotted the game, 2-2, on his penalty-shot marker only 15 seconds into the final stanza.
The Boston University product briefly lost control of the puck while skating up the middle, but used a deke to pull Howard all the way to the left post before sliding the disc home.
But Nyquist countered just over five minutes later to give the visitors the lead for good thanks to his fifth goal in the last four games.
The University of Maine product was able to move from the left wing through center before beating Kuemper off the far post with a hard wrister to make it a one-goal contest.
"I've been getting some pretty good bounces out there," Nyquist said. "Obviously, I've been getting some great passes too. I'm just trying to put the puck in the net as much as possible."
Minnesota went with an extra attacker for most of the final two minutes but couldn't find an equalizer.
Koivu opened the scoring on a power play for the Wild just 5:38 after the opening faceoff, then Smith struck back on a Wings advantage at 10:34.
Legwand produced the lone goal of the second period, converting a behind-the- back pass in close from Riley Sheahan to punctuate another power play with 2:36 remaining before intermission.
"This little stretch here, where we haven't been winning games, I think our penalty kill is at 68 percent," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said. "It's going to be tough. When you're losing one-goal games and your penalty kill is 68 percent, obviously, you have to figure that out."
Howard has won each of his last three starts, improving to 17-16-10 on the year ... The Wings have won four of their last six meetings with the Wild ... Xcel has played host to the inaugural Big Ten hockey tournament since Thursday, and its conference final will be contested Saturday night between Wisconsin and Ohio State.
03/22 19:51:17 ET