DETROIT (AP) — Marian Hossa not only ended the Detroit Red
Wings’ skid, he more than likely took care of any playoff
chances the Minnesota Wild may have had.
Hossa scored with 55 seconds left to lift Detroit to a 3-2 win
over Minnesota on Sunday, snapping the Red Wings’ three-game
Detroit also got a goal and an assist from Pavel Datsyuk, a goal
from Jiri Hudler and a pair of assists from Tomas Holmstrom.
Chris Osgood made 20 saves.
“We knew how desperate they are. They need to win every game to
get into the playoffs,” Hossa said. “We felt an urgency in the
dressing room, too, that this was a playoff game.”
The Red Wings became only the third team in HHL history to win
50 games in four straight seasons. The Boston Bruins did it from
1971-74 and the Montreal Canadiens from 1976-79.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and former Detroit coach Scotty
Bowman are the only coaches to win 50 games in four consecutive
Niklas Backstrom made 41 saves, Cal Clutterbuck had a goal and
an assist and Marian Gaborik also scored for the Wild, who are
10th in the Western Conference and needed at least a point to
retain a realistic chance of reaching the playoffs.
Minnesota was less than a minute left from overtime and getting
that point when Hossa broke their hearts.
“We came here to play good and try and take two points,”
Backstrom said. “We came close to getting one, but we didn’t
come out with anything.”
Gaborik, who has seven goals and 10 points in eight games since
returning from groin problems that forced him to miss 65 games
this season, tied it with 2:03 left in the second period when he
scored his 10th goal from the slot during a goal-mouth scramble.
Hossa scored his 38th by beating Backstrom from the right circle
after taking a pass from Holmstrom.
“Pasha (Datsyuk) got the puck and he just chipped it to Homer
(Holmstrom), and Homer took the puck to the middle and he just
serve it to me perfectly,” Hossa said. “I just tried to make
sure the puck was stable on my stick and tried to shoot it high
glove and it worked.”
That left the Wild mulling what could have been. They’re three
points out of the final playoff spot with three games remaining.
“The only thing we can do is work as hard as we can,”
Clutterbuck said. “The rest is out of our hands.”
Detroit is trying to get dialed in as the playoffs approach.
“I think the third period was the kind the kind of hockey you’re
going to have to play come playoff time,” Nicklas Lidstrom said.
Detroit led 2-1 after a wild first period.
Hudler opened the scoring with 8:39 left with his 23rd goal,
putting in a one-timer from the slot off a pass from Henrik
Zetterberg, and Datsyuk made it 2-0 just 1:04 later when he
moved across the slot and finally backhanded a high shot over a
Minnesota took advantage of Osgood’s gaffe to get on the board
with 1:26 left in the opening period. Clutterbuck intercepted
the goalie’s pass along the right wing boards and put a shot
through as Osgood scrambled to get back into position.