Detroit-Minnesota: Practice Makes Perfect as Red Wings Outduel Wild in Shootout
The Red Wings ended a three-game skid Thursday night, beating the Minnesota Wild in dramatic fashion. The Wings battled back after giving up a two-goal lead late in the third period at St. Paul's Xcell Energy Center, and came out victorious on the strength of Drew Miller's shootout winner.
Detroit jumped out to an early lead at 7:52 of the first period, when Todd Bertuzzi beat Minnesota goalie Josh Harding on a high blocker side shot for his 14th goal of the season. The goal was set up by a terrific backhand feed by Pavel Datsyuk, sending Bertuzzi in on a breakaway. Datsyuk received the only assist on the goal, his 26th on the year.
Minnesota answered at 12:34 of the second period when Shane Hnidy's initial shot caromed off the side of the net and bounced in off Wild forward Robbie Earl's chest. After a lengthy review, it was decided that Earl had not swatted the puck with a glove or high stick, and the net had not come off its moorings before the puck crossed the line. It was Earl's fourth goal of the year.
The Wings pushed forward in the third period, when fan favorites Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller each found the back of the net off a rebound and deflected shot respectively. Eaves' goal came at 2:28 and was his seventh this season, while Miller's sixth of the year came at 9:03.
The Wild came back late in the third with two goals in the span of a minute. The first goal came at 13:48, when Wild forward Kyle Brodziak let go a quick wrister whilst being harassed by Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg.
The puck deflected just wide, off Jimmy Howard's left pad, but was then redirected in by the skate of Wild forward Martin Havlat for his ninth goal of the year. Video review once again went Minnesota's way, and before most fans had returned to their seats from the previous celebration, Minnesota's Andrew Brunette scored his 14th goal of the year to tie the game at three.
A five-minute, 4-on-4 overtime did not produce a victor, though both teams had many chances.
The Wings were able to pull away in the shootout, however, thanks to goals by Datsyuk, Valtteri Filppula, and Miller. Jimmy Howard deserves a lot of credit as he stopped 4-of-8 shooters (Guillaume Latendresse missed the net, Antti Miettinen hit the post, and Owen Nolan and Marek Zidlicky scored). Detroit coach Mike Babcock played a smart hand by holding the talented Finn Filpulla until the seventh round to answer Miettinen's goal.
My Three Stars of the Game
3. Todd Burtuzzi
Played exceptionally well in the offensive zone, especially in the first period.
2. Valtteri Filppula
Played well at both ends of the ice, won more face-offs (six) against a tough set of Wild centermen than any other Red Wing, and saved the game for the Wings in the SO.
1. Jimmy Howard
Faced 30 shots in all, two of the three he allowed were fluky/unlucky, and came up big in the shootout.
1a. Drew Miller
Two goals including the SO winner? Not bad for a guy we got off waivers before the season. Drew is upping his stock with both management and fans, a good way to get a new contract with Detroit this summer.
So, the Red Wings ended their losing streak with a solid victory away from home. Let's not forget that the Wings have played well against quality opponents of late, and will play even better with players coming off of injury. The LA Kings are currently in a shootout (go figure) with the Buffalo Sabres, which means that the Wings currently sit eighth in the West, with the Kings at seventh.
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