The Minnesota Wild are known for playing games with a lot of stops in play through offsides and icing, and turning these choppy games to their advantage with a strong, patient defensive trap. The Red Wings clearly outshot and outchanced the Wild for the entire game, but some defensive lapses on Detroit’s part led to the Wild winning the game 3-2.
Boyd Devereaux opened the scoring with his first goal of the season. He first obtained the puck on the rebound from Henrik Zetterberg’s shot, but was too well-covered to get a clear shot away, so sent it back to Chris Chelios at the right point. The rebound from that point shot also came to Devereaux, and this time he was able to chip it in over the top of goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
The Wild came back to tie less than two minutes later. The teams were playing four-on-four because of a hooking call to Tomas Holmstrom coupled with a diving call on Willie Mitchell. Nick Schultz intercepted a failed clearing attempt in the Red Wings’ zone. He sent the puck across to Wes Walz near the corner of the net. Jason Woolley was unable to get back in time to cover, and Walz put the puck past Curtis Joseph.
The Red Wings got a little too relaxed in the secind period, and Minnesota was able to capitalize on one defensive breakdown and one strange bounce to take a two goal lead. First, Joseph let go a large rebound off a shot by Walz, and Richard Park was able to come uncovered to the front of the net to grab the rebound and put it into the wide open space Joseph had left by sliding to make the first stop.
The next goal, only two minutes later, was more of a fluke than a mistake by the defense. Joseph had come out of the net to play the puck, but it bounced off the skate of Chelios and right out in front, where Rickard Wallin was in just the right spot to slap it in for the goal.
Sean Avery attempted to provide some energy for the Wings by starting (and winning) a fight with Stephane Veilleux, and Detroit did manage to come out stronger in the third period. An interference call on Matt Johnson gave Detroit their first power play of the game early in the third. The Wild did their best to shut down the passing lanes, so the Red Wings scored their power play goal in a little different way. Igor Larionov sent a high pass towards the front of the net, and Brett Hull knocked it out of the air. Brendan Shanahan then outworked defender Antti Laaksonen to tap the puck past Roloson.
Detroit had their chances in the rest of the period, but Minnesota played a tight defense and took away most of the passing plays before they could get well set up, and so kept their win.
The final count of shots on net was 38 to 23 for Detroit. The Red Wings’ next game will be Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Rickard Wallin’s goal was the first of his career…. The two points the Wild gained with this win put them ahead of Vancouver for first place in the Northwest Division and tie them with Dallas for first place in the Western Conference…. The MRI on Manny Legace’s knee shows no damage, but the knee is still sore, and Legace’s condition is listed as day-to-day by the team. Legace feels he should be back in practice by the end of the week. “I just have to get the soreness out,” he explained. Walking hasn’t caused him a problem, but going up and down stairs has been painful. “I have to get my wife to carry me up and down,” he joked.