ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) — Owen Nolan had two goals and an
assist as the Minnesota Wild snapped a three-game losing streak
with a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored and registered an assist and
defenseman Martin Skoula also tallied for the Wild, who avenged
a 4-2 loss at Detroit on February 12.
“Tonight, we made some plays. We made better plays, had good
shots on net,” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said.
Tomas Kopecky and Ville Leino scored for Detroit. The loss was
just the third in the last 11 games for the Red Wings (8-2-1).
Nolan scored both goals in the opening 8:15 of the first period
as Minnesota jumped in front early and did not look back.
“It wasn’t just a couple of guys, everybody got it going,”
Skoula said. “A great team effort. We had a good start, good
first 20 minutes. And the biggest thing is that we didn’t relax
and played a full 60 minutes.”
After Kopecky cut the deficit in half early in the second, the
Wild beat Jimmy Howard for a pair of goals late in the period to
build a three-goal advantage. Bouchard tallied with 2:47 left
in the session and Skoula scored his first goal of the season
1:31 later for a 4-1 lead.
“It’s always big to go in with a lead in the third period,”
Mikko Koivu said. “If its three goals or one goal, it’s a big
difference. At the same time, the start of the third period was
important, that we could not just keep a lead, but keep playing
and put pressure on them.”
Niklas Backstrom stopped 35 shots, including several in the
final minutes of the third period and Stephane Veilleux netted
an empty-net goal with 1.8 seconds left to conclude the scoring.
Minnesota went 4-3-1 during an eight-game stretch that saw it
play seven times at home. The Wild will not be seeing home ice
often over the next month as they open a stretch of 15 of its
next 19 contests on the road at Chicago on Sunday.
“It’s huge,” Skoula said of the win. “Especially going into
Chicago tomorrow. Coming into March, with all the games on the
road, it was a big win today.”
The Wild were in need of a win as they attempt to stay in
contention in the crowded Western Conference. They currently
sit one point behind Anaheim for eighth in the West.
“I thought they won more battles than we did in the early going
of the game,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “We won lots of
battles and had lots of opportunities as the game went on, but
we were already behind the eight-ball.”
Leino made the score 4-2 with 5:15 left in the contest, but
Backstrom shut the door from there and Veilleux found the empty
net before the final buzzer sounded.
Howard stopped 24 shots for Detroit after being called up from
Grand Rapids of the AHL on Thursday.
“It definitely didn’t go as planned,” Howard said of season
debut. “In the end, I’m going to take some good things out of
this game. I wish I could have done more with the opportunity I
received here, but I still believe in myself and still think I
am going to be an NHL goalie one day.”