Detroit at Minnesota (2/21/09)

Detroit was on the road tonight in Minnesota to face the Wild. Backstrom was the goalie for Minnesota and Jimmy Howard was in for the Wings. Howard was backed up by Conklin as Osgood continued his coach-mandated 10 days of practice.

Minnesota got off to a good start when they scored a goal early in the first period. The puck was behind the net. It came to Nolan near the face-off dot. Nolan shot quickly. It looked like Howard was pretty well set. He was square to the shooter, maybe a little deep. He got a piece of the puck but didn’t stop it. It looked like he had a little bit of nerves early on which is understandable.

Just a few minutes later the Wild were on the power play. Howard made a great save but the puck ended up with Nolan behind the net. He brought it out front, stick-handled around Howard and put it into the net for the Wild’s second unanswered goal. To make matters worse there was a delayed penalty so after the goal the Wild went right back on the power play. Luckily the Wings were able to kill off that penalty.

Early in the second period Detroit got on the scoreboard. Leino brought the puck into the zone on the rush. He took a shot that Backstrom stopped and the rebound came out to the slot. Kopecky pounced on it and popped it in through traffic. That made it two to one Wild.

Nearing the end of the second period Nolan cleared the puck off boards to Bouchard springing him on a breakaway. He beat Rafalski to the puck and went in one on one against Howard. He backhanded one high on the stick side that beat Howard for the Wild’s third goal of the night. The Wings were down by two goals again.

A few minutes later the Wings went on the power play and then Hudler was called for holding the stick so it was 4 on 4. The puck came into the Red Wings end. Koivu took it away from Datsyuk of all people and quickly passed it to Skoula in the circle. He one-timed it and beat Howard on the stick side. That put the Wild up four to one with a minute left in the second period.

Towards the end of the third period Rafalski ripped a shot from the blue line. There was traffic in front of the net and Backstrom didn’t get a good look at it. That gave Detroit their second goal. They were down by two with five minutes to go.

With about a minute and a half left Detroit pulled their goalie. They pressured hard for a goal but the Wild were too tenacious. With 1.8 seconds left Veileux scored the empty net goal for the some icing on the Wild’s cake.

The Red Wings were just plain out-played in this game. You could make a case that it’s because they had just played the night before but I think the Wild just have their number. The Wild played so well defensively. They were on every loose puck and they were on the Wings whenever they had the puck. All night long it seemed like the Wild had two extra guys out there. They were just everywhere. Even if the Wings were at their best I think it would have been tough with the Wild playing like that.

I don’t think you can put this one on Howard. A few of the goals probably should have been stopped but the Wings were out-shot and out-chanced in the first period. They did come back in the stats by the end but the slow start was too much to overcome. Their passing wasn’t crisp either. The puck was bouncing all over the place. Again I’m not so sure that this was Detroit playing badly; the Wild were just always in their face.

This 2-5 loss brings us to:
86 points

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