If it’s true that a team needs offense from all possible sources in order to succeed in the playoffs, then the Red Wings look to be in pretty decent shape headng into next week. Five different players scored goals to overcome the normally stifling defense of the Minnesota Wild in a 5-3 win.
Darren McCarty opened the scoring early in the first. Kirk Maltby carried the puck into Minnesota’s zone and dropped a pass back to McCarty, who took a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. Wild goalie Manny Fernandez was sliding to his right, and the puck sailed over his catching glove.
Andrei Zyuzin tied the game up with a power play goal midway through the period. Zyuzin was able to drive to the net with no one covering him, then slam Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s centering pass past Manny Legace.
Jiri Fischer regained the lead for Detroit late in the first with a similar goal””he pushed his way to the net and banged in a centering pass from Brendan Shanahan.
Shanahan and Boyd Devereaux scored in quick succession to open the second period. Shanahan scored off a hard wrist shot set up by Ray Whitney’s hard work shaking off a Minnesota defenseman in the right corner. Devereaux’s goal came after Jason Williams’ shot bounced off the back of Willie Mitchell, who was tussling with Tomas Holmstrom in front of the goal crease. Devereaux was able to scoop up the loose puck and put it into an empty corner of the net while Fernandez was screened by Holmstrom and Mitchell.
Alexandre Daigle brought the Wild back within a pair a few minutes later. Wes Walz cleanly won a faceoff in Detroit’s zone, and Daigle one-timed the shot before Legace was quite ready for it. The puck barely squeezed through between the goalie’s pads.
Daigle outskated Derian Hatcher and put his own rebound into the net at a very tight angle to bring the Wild within one goal with 8:32 left in the game, but Pavel Datsyuk put the game out of reach with his 30th goal of the season. Datsyuk picked up the rebound from Brett Hull’s shot, danced around three Minnesota skaters in the slot, then whipped the puck past Fernandez.
Detroit outshot Minnesota by a count of 38 to 24. The Red Wings will head out for their last road trip of the regular season after tonight. They’ll play the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday and the St. Louis Blues on Thursday before returning home to close the season against Columbus on Saturday.
Detroit only needs one more point in the standings to clinch the Western Conference title”¦. Kris Draper and Robert Lang should be back in the lineup for Wednesday’s game. Mathieu Dandenault could return for Saturday’s game”¦. The Detroit chapter of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association has nominated Steve Thomas as the Red Wings’ candidate for the Bill Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to the player who most exemplifies perseverance and dedication to hockey.