ST. PAUL -- For once, the second period did not prove to be the Detroit Red Wings' undoing.
The Wings came into the game with a minus-20 goal differential, 60-40, in the middle frame and held the Minnesota Wild to just two shots.
Of course, exploding for five goals for the first time since a 5-4 overtime victory against Toronto Dec. 6 didn't hurt either as the Wings beat the Wild, 5-2, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Saturday night.
Tyler Bertuzzi (hat trick) and Thomas Vanek (two) scored for the Wings. Luke Kunin and Nino Niederreiter (power play) scored for the Wild.
Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard had 17 saves. Minnesota goalkeeper Devan Dubnyk had 32 saves.
The Wings improved to 17-23-7. The Wild fell to 22-19-3.
Up next for the Wings is a meeting with the Anaheim Ducks at Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday. The Wild visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday.
1. Tyler Bertuzzi: The Wings were on the other side of a quick goal Friday night in Winnipeg but turned the tables Saturday in Minnesota. Just 24 seconds into the game, Gustav Nyquist fired the puck from the high slot and Tyler Bertuzzi got enough of his stick on it to deflect it past Dubnyk. Dylan Larkin had the second assist. Bertuzzi worked his early-period magic again in the third, deflecting Larkin's shot just 47 seconds into the frame. Mike Green got the second assist. Bertuzzi was not done yet. At 8:38 of the third, Nyquist won the puck behind the net and passed it to Bertuzzi who carried to around the front and backhanded the puck past Dubnyk for his first career hat trick. Bertuzzi was playing in his 100th career game. He is now third on the team in goals with 13. Larkin has 18 and Andreas Athanasiou has 17. Bertuzzi finished with 19 shifts for 15:32, had five shots, one takeaway, one blocked shot, was 1-for-1 in face-offs and was plus-3.
Quotable: "I missed an open net last game so I needed to bounce back and create offense and our line was decent tonight. After the second one I kind of felt like maybe I have the tough tonight or whatever it is or I'm in the right spots. It felt good to get that hat trick." - Bertuzzi
Quotable II: "It was great. He's just a good, fun kid. He battles hard every night, goes to the net, great tips, third goal, good patience. I'm really happy for him." - Vanek
Quotable III: "That's his bread and butter for sure (Bertuzzi going to the net). He's a real good defensive player. He's a real good complementary player with the guys like Larks and Nyquie because he can make a play with them, he's got poise with them. I thought he was excellent last night, one of our best forwards, and then tonight he got rewarded. He's real good around the net, he knows how to tip pucks, not just a net presence but knows how to tip pucks." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill
2. Thomas Vanek: Before the game, some of the people who cover the Wild on a regular basis said they expected the former Wild star to score. But they might not have expected Vanek to score twice. Vanek's first goal came just 28 seconds after the Wild had taken a 2-1 lead on Niederreiter's power-play goal 17 seconds into the second period. Vanek was around the net and got to a rebound on the right side for his eighth goal of the season. Anthony Mantha and Jonathan Ericsson assisted. It was Ericsson's first assist of the season. At 15:10 of the second, Vanek got another rebound - this time of his own shot - and beat Dubnyk from the mid-high slot. Ericsson and rookie Filip Hronek assisted. Vanek finished with 19 shifts for 15:09, had five shots, two hits, one holding minor and was plus-2.
Quotable: "Nowadays it does more. My college friends, they've seen me enough, they don't even come anymore. Now, my kids are getting older, so their friends are into hockey, so they come to the games, they're excited. It's fun to score for those little boys, show them the old man can still score a couple." - Vanek
Quotable II: "It was a wicked slapshot. You see it every day in practice. It's cool seeing him come back here where his family lives and where he went to school and where he calls home now. I know he has a lot of family and friends here. It's pretty cool for him to come after playing 1,000 games. A great teammate and a great player. Cool to see him get two goals here." - Larkin
Quotable III: "Good for Thomas. He tries. His effort's been great. It's not an effort thing. At times I think he's started to squeeze it a little bit too tight. So good for him to shoot the puck. We need him shooting as much as he can." - Blashill
3. Jimmy Howard: While the Wings gave Howard an early lead to work with, they squandered it later in the period when the Wild got their legs going. Minnesota forward Luke Kunin picked up a loose puck and fired it past Howard at 17:00, tying the game, 1-1. It was Kunin's first goal since Oct. 31, 2017 against the Winnipeg Jets. Howard did not have much of a chance on the penalty kill early in the second as the Wild's Nino Niederreiter scored on their first shot. Howard was quite a bit busier in the first, stopping Eric Staal on the Wild power play at 2:15 of the first and Jason Zucker from the left circle midway through the first. The Wild also had a dangerous chance at 16:21 of the first when Mikko Koivu cut to the net and deflected Zucker's shot but Howard was there. Howard was playing in his 492nd career game, passing Guy Hebert for eighth in NHL history in games played by an American-born goaltender.
Quotable: "I think it was one of our best all year. We did a good job of limiting their opportunities. Most of their opportunities came in the first. From there on out they didn't have much and that's because we had numbers back. We fronted shots and we didn't give up anything easy." - Howard
Quotable II: "It feels good. It's been a tough stretch but the way we won tonight, it was a total team effort. Goaltending was great, defense was great. We played well. We had our best third period of the year. We shut them down. Any momentum they wanted to create, we ended it. It started with a goal the first shift. It was a big third period for us, more important than the win I think, because we proved to ourselves we know how to win games." - Larkin