As usually happens, the Minnesota Wild played a tight defensive game without a whole lot of scoring chances. Once they take a lead, they rarely give it up to their opponents, thanks to their strong defensive system. The Red Wings, however, forced the Wild to give up the lead twice in the third period, forcing a 2-2 tie and extending their home unbeaten streak to nine games.
The Red Wings weren’t without their chances. Pavel Datsyuk had two good chances to score in the first period, as did Henrik Zetterberg, but goaltender Dwayne Roloson was solid and refused to let the puck by.
Curtis Joseph was just as solid for Detroit. He stopped Wes Walz on a shorthanded breakaway about eight minutes into the second period, and the fans showed their appreciation by chanting, “Cujo! Cujo! Cujo!”
Minnesota opened the scoring with just 15 seconds left in the second period. The play had gone end to end repeatedly, each team trying hard to score before the period was over. Pascal Dupuis knocked the puck away from Brendan Shanahan in the Wild’s zone, clearing it up to speedy Marian Gaborik. Nicklas Lidstrom just couldn’t catch up with Gaborik quickly enough to stop him. Gaborik’s shot hit Joseph’s leg pads, but managed to find the way between them and across the goal line.
Minnesota’s lead didn’t last very long into the third period. Roloson’s stick had been knocked away from him, but with the Red Wings pressuring offensively, no one could take the time to get the stick back to the netminder. Niklas Kronwall held in a clearing attempt by Sergei Zholtok, then passed the puck to Zetterberg. Zetterberg one-timed a centering pass, which hit Zholtok’s stick in the high slot and deflected right pass Roloson.
The Wild regained the lead when Walz got to the side of the net by himself just in time to redirect a shot by Willie Mitchell, but Kris Draper tied the game back up less than a minute later. Draper was forechecking alone in the Minnesota zone. Mitchell’s clearing attempt hit Draper’s skate. Draper knocked Mitchell away, took the puck onto his stick blade, spun around, and fired towards the net. The puck sailed into the small space between Roloson’s blocker and right leg pad.
The Red Wings would have had offensive control of the overtime period, if they hadn’t been called for having too many men on the ice with 1:42 left to go. Lidstrom, Draper, and Kirk Maltby killed off most of the four-on-three penalty. Shanahan and Steve Yzerman replaced Draper and Maltby to finish off the game by keeping the puck tied up in the corner of Minnesota’s end of the ice.
The Wings outshot the Wild by a count of 37 to 24. Nineteen of Detroit’s shots came in the third period. The Red Wings’ next game will be Sunday night, when they face the Blackhawks in Chicago.
Draper is one goal away from tying his personal best season total of 15 goals…. Injury Update: Derian Hatcher skated for the first time Friday morning. He is still on schedule to return in the third week of March. Darren McCarty and Steve Thomas are still quite a way off from being able to return to the ice, but Tomas Holmstrom should return on Sunday against Chicago and Chris Chelios should return sometime next week. Dominik Hasek is cleared to start skating again on Saturday.