Red Wings Fall in the Wild; Prepare for Showdown with Sharks
In a match up of the league’s best offense against the league’s best defense, the defense prevailed as Detroit fell behind early and never recovered falling 5-2 to the Minnesota Wild.
Owen Nolan scored both first period goals for the Wild – one in even strength and one on the power play.
Tomas Kopecky made it 2-1 in the second but late in the period the Wild put it away with goals by Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Martin Skoula to make it 4-1.
Ville Leino scored in the third but it wasn’t nearly enough for the Wings who continue to struggle defensively.
Detroit , 2-5-1 in its last eight road games, trails San Jose by three points atop the conference standings. The Sharks, who beat Atlanta 3-1 on Saturday, travel to Detroit on Wednesday night, the Red Wings' next game.
Detroit finished 0-for-5 on the power play, after going 7-for-11 in its previous two wins. Minnesota ranks alongside the New York Rangers for the league's best penalty kill at 87.2 percent.
"They box in the neutral zone; they get above and below you. And their goalie made a ton of saves. Its not like we didn't have opportunities, he just played well. Your best penalty killer is always your goaltender and I thought he was excellent tonight," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock.
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Detroit has scored a league high 228 goals, Minnesota has allowed just 135. The Wild, along with Boston, is the only team to allow fewer than 150 goals. Detroit has allowed 177 which, if not for their explosive offensive production, would leave them in a pinch for the playoffs.
Luckily, the Wings haven’t had problems scoring goals but have had problems getting ahead recently due to shaky defensive play. The usually sound Red Wings have allowed the puck to lag in their zone far too long, far too often and continue to struggle on the penalty kill.
Detroit has closed in on San Jose in the past few weeks but hasn’t been able to catch them. They will face the Sharks for the final time this season on Wednesday night in Joe Louis Arena. The last meeting there was a 6-0 victory for the Red Wings. A repeat of that would certainly help the Wings to not only close the gap, but also to regain some badly needed confidence as they enter the home stretch of the season.
By: Erich Straub
ProHockey-fans.com Detroit Red Wings Correspondent