DETROIT -- They were this close to ending a perplexing, frustrating losing streak that has now reached five games.
Instead, the Detroit Red Wings settled for earning a point for the first time in five games after a stunning 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit allowed a goal in the last minute of regulation to tie it 1-1 and then gave up the game-winner 93 seconds into overtime when Devin Setoguchi lifted his own power-play rebound over Jimmy Howard.
Despite taking an uncharacteristic nine penalties and giving the Wild eight power-plays, the Red Wings (5-4-1) left the ice looking stunned and angry. They somehow found a way to lose a game they felt never should have gotten to overtime and now face the Calgary Flames on Thursday with some issues to solve – such as why they continue not to score more.
Detroit put 37 shots on goal against Minnesota backup goalie Josh Harding (36 saves), who has made all three of his starts this season against the Wings and has won the last two -- allowing just this one goal against 73 shots in those games.
"We got off to a good start and we've lost five games in a row," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We got a point tonight, but the reality is that we're not being good enough. We're going to have to fix it."
This time, the costliest breakdowns came late in the game while clinging to a 1-0 lead.
The Wild's Mikko Koivu scored his first goal of the season on a deflection of Justin Falk's shot to beat Howard (25 saves) with a minute left in regulation. Koivu then assisted on Setoguchi's game-winner in overtime.
"With a minute left we had the puck going into the offensive zone," Babcock lamented. "All we had to do was put it behind them. We didn't. Then we had the puck coming up the wall and all we had to do was get it out. We didn't. The bottom line is (we're) not winning."
Detroit hadn't dropped four straight in regulation since Feb. 10-17, 2008 and at least broke that trend – but they still haven't won in five and it's now their longest dry spell in that regard since going winless in six games from late January to early February 2009.
It wasn't exactly a pretty game by the Wild either, but getting the two points made it seem better.
Until Setoguchi's goal, Minnesota (5-3-3) had squandered more than 10 minutes of power-play time, including 1:25 of 5-on-3 in the third. Howard and the Wings' defense was strong almost the entire game, but the Wild didn't exactly test them very much, either – despite all the man-advantage situations.
Just nine of their 27 shots were on target during power plays, but it only took the one that went in to win. After a goaltender interference call on Johan Franzen put Minnesota back on the power play, Koivu dug the puck out of the corner in the offensive zone while initiating hard contact with Detroit defenseman Nicklas Kronwall.
The Wings and home crowd wanted a penalty, but didn't happen and Koivu got the puck to the net – where Setoguchi lifted his own rebound past Howard just seconds after the two were tangled up in front of the net. Setoguchi also picked up an assist on Koivu's goal and they both finished with two points.
"We started to pick it up as we went along," said Setoguchi, who made a habit of pestering the Red Wings as a San Jose Shark in the last two playoffs, particularly in overtime. "The power play struggled, but we got one at the end when it counted. We needed a goal. We needed a score there. To ice it in overtime is a big win for us, but we've still got a long ways to go."
This was already the third of four games between the Wings and Wild and every game has been tight. Detroit won the first meeting 3-2 on the road in overtime and the Wild won the rematch in Minnesota 1-0 last Saturday.
That one gave the Wings their fourth straight loss; they'd been outscored 16-4 in those games. They've now been outscored 18-5 in their past five.
Just how much did Detroit want to break its scoring woes? Enough to pepper Harding early in the first and even have legendary 41-year old defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom going to the net without the puck, rather than staying at the point. The strategy worked -- he scored the game's first goal just 6:00 after the opening faceoff by deflecting a shot by Henrik Zetterberg through traffic and past Harding.
That was the lone goal scored in the period and turned out to be the only one that dented the net for either team until Koivu's tied it with time running out on the Wild in the third.
Minnesota just couldn't capitalize on all the Detroit penalties as an inept power-play kept letting the Wings off the hook until overtime.
A charging call on Drew Miller after he bowled over Harding behind the net with Todd Bertuzzi already in the box for slashing, might have been the worst of the Wings' transgressions on a night full of them
Howard and a strong penalty-kill effort thwarted the 5-on-3, but Babcock didn't enjoy watching it.
"It is ridiculous, right?" he said. "There (were) a number of penalties tonight that didn't need to be (taken). Even the too many men on the ice penalty (in the second) … you know when the puck's coming to your bench and you're on a change, that happens all the time. You can't touch it. Obviously we're not helping ourselves right now."