Red Wings Clinch Central Division with Win over Wild

The Detroit Red Wings locked up their ninth Central Division title in the past ten seasons with a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild Sunday afternoon.

The division championship was clinched one day after Detroit made the playoffs for the twentieth consecutive season, the active record in North American pro sports.

Darren Helm opened the scoring for the Red Wings just 2:46 into the game. Helm took a pass from Patrick Eaves in the slot and drifted towards the right faceoff circle before snapping a shot past Minnesota netminder Jose Theodore.

Nicklas Lidstrom made it 2-0 with 20 seconds left in the first and the teams skating four-on-four with a blast from the blue line that went through a screen set by Pavel Datsyuk, playing in his first game since March 17.

The Wild pulled back to within a goal at 4:32 of the second period, when Brad Staubitz knocked the puck out from under Jimmy Howard and into the Detroit net.

Detroit regained the two-goal lead with 7:22 left in the period. With the Red Wings on the power play, Tomas Holmstrom got the puck in the high slot and skated around a diving Brent Burns before snapping a shot past Theodore.

Johan Franzen banged the puck past Theodore from in close at 6:11 of the third to put the Red Wings up by three.

Detroit thought they had a 5-1 lead later in the period when a Brad Stuart shot beat Theodore but the goal was waived off because Justin Abdelkader had been knocked into the net.

The Wild finished off the game's scoring with 3:06 remaining when Carson MacMillan beat Howard on a rebound try for his first career goal.

Howard finished the night with 27 saves on 29 shots while Theodore maade 30 saves on 34 chances.

The Red Wings went one-for-three on the power play. Minnesota was scoreless on five power play tries.

Detroit is now off until Wednesday when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes before a season-ending weekend series with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Notes: With Datsyuk's return to the lineup, the Red Wings rested forward Mike Modano... Niklas Kronwall remained out of the lineup on the blue line and Kris Draper was a healthy scratch.

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It's an odd 5:00 start time today as the Red Wings host the Wild, so I'll kick this thread off now since I expect to be running around all day.

Yesterday's big comeback win in Nashville means nothing if Detroit shows up flat against a Minnesota team that's already been eliminated from the playoffs. The Wings may have clinched a playoff spot for the twentieth consecutive season but two more points gives them the Central Division and home ice in the first round.

Pavel Datsyuk is either expected to play or not expected to play, depending on who you ask. Before yesterday's game, Ken Holland said Datsyuk would return today. After the game, Mike Babcock said it was to be determined. If Pavs returns, I'd have to think Kris Draper and Drew Miller sit. If Pavs is out, Miller probably rotates in for Draper.

Niklas Kronwall will be out with a sore shoulder again meaning the blueline remains the same as Saturday.

Jimmy Howard starts opposite Jose Theodore.

The Wild are short a bunch of guys, including most of their blueline, so combined with the possibility of letting up after yesterday's game I feel like this is one of those "trap games" (not a commentary on Minnesota's defensive strategy, though that certainly comes into play as well).

Posted by YzerFan19 on 4/3/2011 at 10:44 AM


Now Datsyuk is in but Modano is out? Never know what lineup you're gonna get these days it seems.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 4/3/2011 at 4:43 PM


Great shot by Helm. Wings with all the pressure early.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 4/3/2011 at 5:13 PM


Budd Lynch goal goes the right way. Not sure if Pavs tipped it or not.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 4/3/2011 at 5:42 PM


Ref did a great job of deciding not to lose sight of the puck when he couldn't see it under Howard's body right there.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 4/3/2011 at 6:09 PM


Homer dangles for the PPG

Posted by YzerFan19 on 4/3/2011 at 6:25 PM


Not sure how the ref saw Franzen's cross the line but I'll take it.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 4/3/2011 at 7:04 PM


Horrible call to bring back Stuart's goal. Great play behind the net by Bert anyway.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 4/3/2011 at 7:07 PM


Wings claim the Central once again.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 4/3/2011 at 7:28 PM

Tomas Holmstrom

Tomas Holmstrom
Credit: Clark Rasmussen

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