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Nyquist nets two in Wings' OT loss to Wild

by Andrea Nelson / Detroit Red Wings

After missing six games with a fractured bone in his left foot, center Joakim Andersson returned to the Red Wings' lineup Sunday. He logged 11 minutes of ice time with one shot on goal and one hit. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT - After scoring just one goal over an 18-game span from Dec. 1 to Jan. 18, Gustav Nyquist has taken the National Hockey League by storm during the last quarter of the regular season.

The 24-year-old leads the league with 18 goals in 23 games since Jan. 20, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Nyquist tallied two goals in the first period of Detroit’s 4-3 overtime loss to Minnesota Sunday night, earning his first two-goal period of his NHL career.

“Well, I’ve been playing with great player so I’ve getting a lot of opportunities out there to shoot the puck in good areas and getting great passes,” Nyquist said. “So that’s the reason behind it and obviously I’m getting good deflections too. I’ve had some good bounces for some goals, so that’s fun to see.”

The forward leads the Wings with 23 goals, tying his single-season total at any level that was set during the 2012-13 season in Grand Rapids. Nyquist now has seven tallies in Detroit’s past five games, helping the Wings to a 3-1-1 record and the No. 1 spot in the wild-card standings.

And his confidence only seems to increase every time he steps on the ice.

“I think confidence grows for every game that you’re up here, and right now, obviously, scoring a little bit it gives me more confidence with the puck,” Nyquist said.

Nyquist’s growth and improvement is evident in the steady increase of shots he’s tallied since the Olympic break, as he and Johan Franzen are the only players to record a shot on goal in every game since Feb. 26. Before the break, Nyquist averaged 2.55 shots per game, and in the 13 games since then, has increased that average to 3.23 shots per game.

The forward netted two goals on three shots against the Wild.

“He was in good spots again,” said linemate Tomas Tatar. “The first goal, the puck bounced to his stick. Like I said, when you’re hot, the puck is just following you. The second one, I didn’t know where was the puck, I just heard him scream. I fired and right away hit him in his stick. Gus is skilled enough to finish those kind of opportunities. He scored a nice goal.”

But Nyquist knew exactly where the puck was hiding.

“Tats made a great play, he blocked a shot,” Nyquist explained. “It was in his pants. He was able to find it in his skates and chipped it up for me. I was all alone, and tried to make a move. It was nice to see it go in.”

The only thing that would’ve made the night even sweeter for Nyquist was to emerge from the home-and-home weekend series against the Wild with four points, but the Wings had to settle for three.

“It’s always gonna be disappointing when you lose a game now at this time of year,” Nyquist said. “We’re in real need of points with all of the teams battling for playoff in real need. We got one at least today. Obviously, we wanted to get two but we’ll forget about this one and move on.”

The Wings earned one point in the overtime loss, equaling Toronto with 80 points but holding the tiebreaker over the Maple Leafs with a ROW of 28 and two games in hand.

“All in all you know I guess the way I look at it we had a great week here, we get a day of rest tomorrow, get ourselves energized and get to Columbus and then play like we can,” said coach Mike Babcock. “For whatever reason, sometimes you just don’t have the energy and normally in the game you find it. I don’t know if we ever found it, to tell you the truth, and we know we can be better but like I said, a huge point.”

Follow Andrea Nelson on Twitter @Nelson_Andrea

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