It would be hard to blame the Detroit Red Wings if they have that championship feeling again.
The Wings improved to 4-0-0 -- their best start since the Cup-winning season of 1997-98, when Johan Franzen scored a power-play goal with 48.5 seconds left in overtime to give Detroit a 3-2 victory at Minnesota on Saturday night.
Tomas Holmstrom dug the puck loose during a scramble and backhanded a short pass to an onrushing Franzen, who poked it in just before he was slammed into the net. The goal stood after a video review, giving the Wings their first power-play goal in 19 tries this season -- and a victory in a game in which they had to overcome a 2-0 deficit.
"I got cross-checked in the back as soon as I touched the puck. I don't know how the puck went in," Franzen said. "It wasn't a beautiful play; it was kind of a broken play."
Detroit hadn't won its first four games in 14 years -- and the last time it happened, they ended up repeating as Stanley Cup champs. The team record for wins at the start of a season is six, set in 1972-73.
In his first action in 568 days, Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding faced a barrage of 41 shots, while his teammates generated just 14. It was Harding's first start since March 26, 2010, at Detroit. He left that game with a hip/labrum injury to end his season. But things got worse six months later when he tore two ligaments in a preseason game that forced him to miss all of last season.
"Josh was outstanding tonight. He got us a point. We are really disappointed that we couldn't get a second point for him," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. "He got us to overtime, gave us a chance to get a second one. ... He was great tonight."
Just not great enough to beat one of the NHL's elite teams on a night when it was at its best.
"I thought we were better from start to finish," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We made a couple of mistakes, they scored on them. Even in the first, we were on them and I thought we were really dominant in the second, very good in the third and then in overtime."
Harding didn't need to make any spectacular saves but he was fundamentally sound throughout, moving side-to-side, squaring up against shooters and controlling rebounds.
"I'm happy with the way I played. There's still a lot of work to do. I can definitely get smoother and more crisp on my movement, but it's definitely a good starting point," he said. "I realize how lucky I am to be playing in the NHL right now."
Defenseman Greg Zanon gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead with 11.3 seconds left in the opening period beating Jimmy Howard with a screened slap shot from the top of the slot. It was Zanon's first goal in 136 games dating to Dec. 12, 2009. It was also the first goal allowed by Detroit in 141:19, dating to opening night -- the Wings came to Minnesota off back-to-back shutouts against Colorado and Vancouver.
Cal Clutterbuck gave the Wild a 2-0 lead 16 seconds into the second period, one-timing a feed from Colton Gilles past Howard.
But the rest of the night belonged to the Wings. Ian White scored with 47.7 seconds left when he picked up a loose puck in the left circle, cut across the crease and beat Harding low on the glove side.
"We let our foot off the gas in the middle of the game and gave them some life," Wild center Matt Cullen said.
Howard needed to make just 12 saves as he improved to 7-0-1 in his last eight starts against Minnesota.
"The guys did a great job in front of me all night long," Howard said. "We played a lot in their end and generated a lot of opportunities. Even when they had the lead we kept battling, kept getting pucks to the net and retrieving them."
|Greg Zanon (1) ASST: Guillaume Latendresse (4)|
1 - 0 MIN
|Cal Clutterbuck (1) ASST: Colton Gillies (1), Kyle Brodziak (1)|
2 - 0 MIN
|Ian White (2) ASST: Johan Franzen (2), Valtteri Filppula (1)|
2 - 1 MIN
|Jiri Hudler (2) ASST: Jakub Kindl (2), Valtteri Filppula (2)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Johan Franzen (2) ASST: Tomas Holmstrom (1), Ian White (1)|
3 - 2 DET
|Kyle Brodziak Hooking against Niklas Kronwall|
|Nick Schultz Cross checking against Tomas Holmstrom|
|Patrick Eaves Hi-sticking against Marco Scandella|
|Matt Cullen Tripping against Justin Abdelkader|