Curtis Joseph made 27 saves in his first game since November 8, and Brett Hull added a goal and two assists to help lift the Red Wings over the Minnesota Wild, 5-2.
Detroit opened the scoring just two minutes into the game. Steve Thomas handed the puck off to Mark Mowers just inside the Minnesota zone. Mowers made a good pass through the slot to Hull on the left side of the net, and Hull flipped the puck in over goalie Dwayne Roloson.
The Wild answered with a power play goal late in the period. Jiri Fischer was in the box for cross checking when Richard Park brought the puck into the zone and took a wrist shot from just inside the blue line. Joseph seemed to be expecting Park to pass, so he was sliding the wrong way and couldn’t get back across in time to block the shot.
Minnesota took the lead early in the second period. Brent Burns and Alexandre Daigle were up on a two-on-one. Fischer dropped to take the pass away, but he was too far back and Burns got the pass across. Daigle was able to put the puck into the net over Joseph.
The Red Wings answered just 23 seconds later. Steve Yzerman got the puck out from the left corner to Boyd Devereaux coming up through the offensive zone. Devereaux one-timed a shot from the left circle, and the puck deflected off Brad Brown before beating Roloson through the five-hole.
Detroit dominated the second period after squelching Minnesota’s goal-inspired momentum. Pavel Datsyuk turned a clearing pass by Hull into a scoring play, carrying the puck into the Wild’s zone and around the net before making a sharp pass to Nicklas Lidstrom in the low slot. Lidstrom had time to settle the puck before putting it in just under the crossbar.
Kris Draper added a goal late in the second, taking a quick step in front of the net to throw Roloson off before converting Kirk Maltby’s centering pass into a high shot and a goal.
The third period was a time of concern, since the Red Wings have had trouble protecting their leads through the ends of games this season. There were some defensive lapses on Detroit’s part, but Joseph was able to stop every scoring chance the Wild could come up with. His best save was probably against Daigle from right in front of the crease midway through the period, but Andrew Brunette and Marian Gaborik also had good chances which Joseph stopped. Datsyuk put the cap on the game with only two seconds remaining. Hull made a pass which sprang Datsyuk on a breakaway, and Datsyuk backhanded a shot which bounced off Roloson’s blocker and into the net.
Shots on net totaled 33 to 28 in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings’ next game will be at home against the struggling Washington Capitals on Monday night.
Dominik Hasek and Ray Whitney both sat out again with groin injuries…. Jamie Rivers came into the lineup for Jason Williams, who sat out with (what else?) a groin injury. Rivers played on the fourth line with his companions from the Grand Rapids Griffins, Mark Mowers and Darryl Bootland. The Griffins Line played about nine minutes together, and did a very respectable job as defensive forwards, coming out with a +1 rating thanks to Mowers’ assist on Hull’s goal.