With a chance to win, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock called Helm's number, and the veteran came through. His backhand-forehand move got Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk on his belly, giving Helm an open net to shoot at, helping Detroit to a 3-2 victory at Xcel Energy Center.
"I wasn't really thinking my number was going to be called quite yet," Helm said. "I thought [Justin Abdelkader] had a chance; he's been pretty hot lately. I thought he could go, a couple other guys, so I was pretty calm. I wasn't thinking about it too much."
Babcock didn't know he was going to go with Helm either. After the first three or four shooters, Babcock went with an unconventional method to decide who jumped over the boards next.
"I just asked (backup goaltender) Pete Mrazek who he thought was any good," Babcock said. "He's the guy who's faced them; I don't face them. [Assistant coach Andrew Brewer] has all the math on everybody, and so we go based on that, but you get to a point and I just ask Mrazek who should shoot."
Helm's shot was ruled no goal on the ice after Dubnyk appeared to make a save with the back of his left pad. But it was determined by video review that the puck had already crossed the goal line.
"Luckily, it went in," Helm said. "It was questionable there for a little bit. I thought it might have [gone in] because I got it past that first pad."
The Red Wings (41-24-13) remain tied with the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division; Detroit has played one fewer game.
Detroit and Boston, which defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in a shootout Saturday night, are three points ahead of the Ottawa Senators, who won 4-3 in overtime against the Washington Capitals. The teams are also competing for a wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
Jimmy Howard made 22 saves through overtime, and then denied six Wild shooters in the tiebreaker for his first win since March 22.
"I just wanted to go out there and give the guys a chance to win and to have fun," Howard said. "That's why we do this; it's fun to us. That's what I tried to get back to."
Minnesota (44-26-8) has lost consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 19 and 20, but the Wild remain four points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets for the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. The Wild and Jets play Monday in St. Paul.
Minnesota had a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a win and other results.
"Any point you get right now is big," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It's not like we were that bad; let's not paint that picture. We played a pretty darn good hockey team tonight and we knew they were going to play their best game."
Zach Parise scored two goals for the Wild, including a between-the-legs redirection for his second goal of the night with 13:27 remaining in the third period to tie the score 2-2.
Parise scored the game's first goal at 14:07 of the first period following a Detroit turnover at its own blue line. His 32 goals lead the Wild.
Detroit tied the score when Riley Sheahan pounced on a rebound and beat Dubnyk at 15:59.
The Red Wings took advantage of their first power play of the night late in the second when Gustav Nyquist fired a shot from a sharp angle over Dubnyk's shoulder at 17:13, giving Detroit a 2-1 lead.
"They were better than us the first two periods, no question," Parise said. "I thought we started to play a little simpler and a little smarter in the third and I thought that's when we started to feel a little better about how we were playing."
Dubnyk made 20 saves.
Minnesota was without captain Mikko Koivu, who was a late scratch with an eye injury. The Wild said Koivu is day-to-day.
"He scratched his cornea, but he should be fine by Monday," Yeo said.