RED WINGS (3-0-0) at WILD (2-1-1)
TV: FS-D, FS-N (HD)
First of four meetings this season. After the Wild won the first matchup last season in overtime, the Red Wings reeled off three straight victories after that. Johan Franzen
, Darren Helm
, Tomas Holmstrom
and Nicklas Lidstrom
each scored 2 goals in the series. Jimmy Howard
started all four games.
Detroit seems to have stumbled upon a foolproof recipe for success: You can't lose if you don't give up any goals. The Red Wings enter off consecutive shutouts against the Avalanche and Canucks, and through three games boast an impressive plus-7 goal differential.
Taking full advantage of a Vancouver team that was playing its third road game in four nights, Detroit claimed a 2-0 win Thursday night on the strength of second-period goals by Justin Abdelkader
and Valtteri Filppula
, plus a 25-save performance from Howard. The third-year netminder was merely trying to keep up after veteran backup Ty Conklin
stopped all 29 shots he faced in Colorado five nights earlier.
"Just attention to detail is important. Playing with pretty good structure, all on the same page. Obviously, you've got to give credit to our goalies," Abdelkader said. "Conks did a great job in Colorado and Jimmy did a great job tonight. Anytime you pitch shutouts the goalies get the credit right away."
It's been a busy start to the season for Minnesota, which will play its fifth game in eight nights. The Wild have split the first four, including a pair of shootouts earlier in the week. They came out on the wrong end Tuesday night in Ottawa, blowing a two-goal, third-period lead in the process, but redeemed themselves Thursday by pulling out a 2-1 win against Edmonton. Matt Cullen
tied the score in the second period and Devin Setoguchi
tallied in the fourth round of the penalty-shot tiebreaker.
"It's kind of positive affirmation, I guess, that you're doing the right things and that our game can be really good," Cullen said. "Anytime we've done that so far in this young season we've been really effective, and it's a confidence booster for us."
When you get past the goaltenders, no one player has really carried the Red Wings to this point -- Pavel Datsyuk
and Jiri Hudler
each have 3 points to lead the team, but 16 players already have at least a goal or an assist. … Cullen has scored a goal in three of the Wild's first four games to pace the club after going without one the final 24 games of last season.
Detroit defenseman Mike Commodore
(lower body) and forward Jan Mursak
(ankle) are on injured reserve. … Minnesota defenseman Mike Lundin
(back spasms) and forward Cody Almond
(back) are on injured reserve.
The Red Wings are still looking for their first power-play goal of the season, having come up empty on their first 16 man-advantage opportunities. They finished fifth in the NHL last season at 22.3 percent. … Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom
had won just one of his previous 10 shootouts and was 12-25 career in them prior to Thursday's triumph.
First-year Minnesota coach Mike Yeo was thrilled to see Backstrom get off the schneid and secure his team the second point.
"I was really happy for him," said Yeo, who walked to the end of the bench and patted Backstrom on the back before the shootout began.
"It looked like he said, 'You're not beating me. You're not beating me this time.'"