Hola, State of Hockey Legion!
Well, it’s Rivalry Night in the National Hockey League as the State of Hockey travels to Hockeytown for another big game in the Western Conference. Your Minnesota Wild is rolling along on top of the Northwest Division and is in Detroit to take on the Magenta Spokes, better known as the Red Wings.
It’s Wednesday night and I can hear Doc Emrick and Eddie Olczyk warming up in the press box here at Joe Louis Arena so that can only mean one thing: Nationally. Televised. Game. Yes, it’s Rivalry Night on NBC Sports Network and a big matchup in the West. If you think every game seems like a big game down the stretch, you’d be correct. Only six points separate teams three through ten in the Conference. Every game will have a playoff-like feel for the remainder of the season and it’s going to be a great ride.
But first thing’s first and tonight the Wild is here to take care of business, looking to sweep the third and final game of the roadie against the Wings. The club will once again proceed with Niklas Backstrom in net. Backstrom looks to turn things around against Detroit; going 1-4-3 lifetime against the Wings. Well, tonight is as good as any time to get win number two.
Helping try to procure the Wild’s first victory in Joe Louis Arena since 2006 will be the exact same lineup as the team’s last victory, Monday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Tonight’s healthy scratch will be Brett Clark, who is yet to make his Wild debut. Mike Rupp (lower body) and Tom Gilbert (undisclosed) participated in the morning skate, but are both out of the lineup tonight. Josh Harding is on Injured Reserve as he continues to receive treatment for multiple sclerosis and did not travel with the team.
The Wild wears its road whites; the Wings wear its traditional red and white home sweaters.
Over on the social media platform, Twitter, we’ll be live tweeting the game at @mnwildLIVE. Follow along.
Period 1 - MIN 1, DET 0
The Wild got out to a fast start again, scoring the games first goal. It's the eighth time in the last nine games Minnesota has opened the scoring.
The second line of Matt Cullen, Devin Setoguchi and Pierre-Marc Bouchard stays hot, with Setoguchi finishing off a nice passing play. Bouchard got the puck to Cullen, who rushed in and curled back. He slipped the puck to Setoguchi, who collected and fired a shot through the legs of Wings' netminder Jimmy Howard for his 10th goal of the season.
The Wild takes a one-goal lead into the second. Shots here in Joe Louis are in favor of the Wings, 17-5, that period. But I seriously think the dude pushing the button was a little trigger happy because it didn't feel like the Wild was that outshot. Either way, Minnesota is going to come out hard in the second and extend its lead. Stay tuned.
Period 2 - MIN 4, DET 1
Minnesota kept the scoring going in the second period, striking first on the man advantage. The Wings got on the board, but the Wild extended its lead.
After a high hit by Niklas Kronwall on Charlie Coyle, the Wild was on a four-minute power play (somehow it was called high sticking, but it was clearly a shoulder to the head). The Wild got off to a slow start, but things changed quickly on a line rush. Coming up ice, Ryan Suter fed a streaking Jared Spurgeon along the right side. He snuck past a Wings defender and found Kyle Brodziak wide open in the slot. Brodziak slammed home a one-timer for his fifth goal of the season.
The Red Wings answered midway through the period, scoring its first of the game. Gustav Nyquist got behind the Wild defense for a breakaway and slid a backhander through the legs of Backstrom.
Minnesota answered as Mikko Koivu scored with a low shot to the glove side from the slot. After a 2-on-1 rush, Zach Parise picked up the puck behind the net and threw it out front. It caromed off Coyle and went onto the tape of Koivu. The Wild Captain turned and fired the puck past Howard.
The Wild got its second power play goal of the period, as Setoguchi scored his second goal of the game. Bouchard made a short pass to Dany Heatley in the slot for a wide open one-time bomb. Howard made a pad save, but Setoguchi was on the doorstep to walk around the netminder and tuck it home.
The Wild might've had to shake off some rust in the first, but came back like a house of fire that period. Twenty miles for a HUGE road win. Finish it.
Period 3 - MIN 4, DET 2
The Red Wings added a late goal on the power play by Drew Miller, but the damage was already done.
The Wild wins all three on the road trip, and for the first time in Detroit since 2006. We'll see you all back here on Saturday as the Wild hosts the Sharks in a matinee game at Xcel Energy Center, looking for a fifth-straight win.