ST. PAUL, Minn. - Owen Nolan had two goals and an assist to lead the Minnesota Wild past the Detroit Red Wings 5-2 on Saturday night.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Martin Skoula and Stephane Veilleux also scored for Minnesota. The Wild ended a three-game losing streak and scored at least four goals for the first time in eight games.
Tomas Kopecky and Brian Rafalski scored for Detroit, which lost for the first time in four games, and just the second time in regulation in 11 February games.
The Wild badly needed the two points as they try to stay in the playoff chase. Minnesota entered the night two points out of a playoff spot in the ultra-tight Western Conference, but just three points ahead of the last-place trio of Colorado, Phoenix and St. Louis.
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.
Jimmy Howard will likely not be with Detroit for that one. The goalie was called up from Grand Rapids of the AHL on Thursday for the first time this season because Chris Osgood has been given a few days off to mentally regroup after a tough stretch.
Howard's first start since Feb. 23, 2008, had a rough beginning.
Nolan, who has two three-point games in his last three outings, beat Howard through the pads with a snap shot from the right dot at 2:50, before coming from behind the net and putting a backhand past Howard for a power-play goal at 8:15. Two Detroit defenders were standing nearby. It was the second straight Saturday Nolan had two first-period goals.
Kopecky scored early in the second, pushing in a centring pass from Ville Leino, whose pass was lost in the skates of Brent Burns. It was his first goal in 22 games.
Detroit controlled play most of the middle period, but two late Wild goals put the game away.
Bouchard got a couple of strides behind Rafalski through the neutral zone, grabbing a loose puck cleared from the Wild zone by Nolan, before beating Howard on a wrist shot.
Skoula scored 1:31 later converting a cross-ice feed from Mikko Koivu, who took the puck away from Rafalski and Pavel Datsyuk. It was Skoula's first goal in 72 games, dating to March 2, 2008.
Rafalski scored on a shot from the blue line in the third period, but Veilleux added an empty-netter with 1.8 seconds left.
Minnesota left-winger Andrew Brunette sat out the game because of a lower-body injury, ending the NHL's longest active consecutive games streak at 509. He last missed a game Dec. 31, 2001, because of a shoulder contusion.
Notes: Detroit finished 0-for-5 on the power play, after going 7-for-11 in its previous two wins. Minnesota entered the game tied with the New York Rangers for the league's best penalty kill at 87.2 per cent. ... Howard's last win was Nov. 28, 2005, eight appearances ago. ... Detroit D Brett Lebda missed his fifth straight game with a bad back. He is listed as day-to-day. ... Minnesota RW Craig Weller returned after missing 13 games with a head injury. ... Nolan has 37 points in 48 career games against Detroit.