DETROIT (AP) _ The Detroit Red Wings have nearly secured first place in the
Western Conference. Now their sights are set on the postseason.
Brendan Shanahan had a goal and an assist Monday night in the Red Wings' 5-3
victory over the Minnesota Wild on Monday night.
Detroit, with 105 points, reduced its magic number to one point over San
Jose to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs with three games
remaining. The Red Wings have won three straight to take over first place in
the overall NHL standings.
``Our objective is to get ready for the playoffs,'' Detroit forward Steve
Thomas said. ``We wanted to continue what we were doing against Colorado.''
The Red Wings beat the Avalanche in their two previous games.
Darren McCarty, Jiri Fischer, Boyd Devereaux and Pavel Datsyuk scored the
other Red Wings goals. Ray Whitney had two assists for Detroit, which led 2-1
after the first period.
``We're trying to peak as we're going into the playoffs,'' Whitney said.
Alexandre Daigle scored twice, and Andrei Zyuzin netted the other goal for
McCarty opened the scoring at 4:26 when he put in a wrist shot from the top
of the left circle. Minnesota tied it on a power-play goal with 9:57 remaining
when Zyuzin slammed in a one-timed shot from in front.
Fischer restored the Red Wings' lead with 5:28 left in the period, and
Detroit extended its advantage to 4-1 by scoring twice early in the second
Shanahan made it 3-1 with a shot from the right circle that slipped through
Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez's glove 37 seconds into the period. Devereaux
made it a three-goal lead when he scored off a rebound at 2:25.
``I don't think Manny was strong at all,'' Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire
said. ``He didn't look comfortable.''
Daigle got his goal off a faceoff from the top of the left circle at 5:57,
and his second goal came with 8:32 left in the game.
``I think we kind of let up in the second period,'' Thomas said. ``It's got
to be our objective to play three strong periods.''
Datsyuk scored his team-leading 30th goal and fifth in five games with 6:25
The Red Wings got a scare late in the second period when Whitney
accidentally fell on Detroit goaltender Manny Legace's knee. Curtis Joseph is
out with an ailing ankle and Legace will likely start the playoffs.
Legace, who made 21 saves, wasn't injured.
``Luckily, my knee released,'' he said. ``Kind of an awkward position.''
Whitney hit Legace in the shoulder with a shot during warmups before
Saturday's 3-0 win over the Avalanche.
``He and I are having some problems right now,'' Whitney joked.