ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Todd Bertuzzi’s shootout goal for Detroit clinched a 2-1 win Sunday over his old nemesis the Minnesota Wild, and goalie Jimmy Howard also gave the Red Wings a big hand in their fifth straight victory.
After Pavel Datsyuk flipped a first-round shot over Niklas Backstrom’s stick, Howard denied the Wild’s Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Matt Cullen to set up Bertuzzi’s winner. Howard has given up only one shootout goal in 14 attempts this season.
WCCO Interviews Niklas Backstrom
Minnesota’s Martin Havlat answered Niklas Lidstrom’s goal early in the third period by scoring on a breakaway to tie the game. Backstrom, who gave up only eight goals in his six previous starts this month, made 38 saves to keep the Wild competitive.
The Red Wings had at least one goal in 12 straight periods, scoring 20 times over the previous four games, but Backstrom and his blue-line buddies denied every opportunity by the league’s second-highest-scoring team over the first two frames.
When Detroit’s Danny Cleary was by himself on the edge of the crease and tried to lift a turnaround backhander over the goalie’s sprawled-out arm in overtime, Backstrom — his legs split wide apart — snapped his glove out and snagged the puck to preserve the tie.
The Red Wings, chasing Vancouver for the top spot in the Western Conference, have won four in a row on the road.
This was just the second loss in the last seven home games for the Wild, who began the afternoon in 10th place, but just one point behind a four-way tie of teams. They’re 10-5 in their last 15 games, and they played this one without captain and first-line center Mikko Koivu, who blocked a shot and hurt his hand Friday.
Just 70 seconds into the third period, Lidstrom darted up the middle and after grabbing a centering pass from Jiri Hudler zipped a shot through traffic past Backstrom into the net. That brought the thousands of Red Wings fans, who show up in other team’s arenas like few others, to their feet with a loud cheer.
Lidstrom’s goal, the 12th of the season for the 40-year-old captain, was his first in the last 22 games.
Havlat, however, gave the home crowd a chance to remind the Red Wings rooters they were in the minority. All-Star defenseman Brent Burns picked up a puck in his own zone and spotted Havlat surging the other way with only Howard in front of him. The pass was on line and Havlat’s stick-side shot was, too.
WCCO Interviews Marty Havlat
Bertuzzi, who had two goals apiece in three of his previous four games, skated in his 1,000th career game. He became the 263rd player in NHL history, 33 of them still active, to reach that milestone.
This was an ironic place for the revitalized 36-year-old to do that. The bearded, rugged right wing first drew the ire of Wild fans in line for playoff tickets to see Game 6 of their second-round series in 2003 for taunting them not to bother because the Canucks were going to end it before then.
The Wild came back from a 3-1 deficit, and Bertuzzi was officially the franchise’s first opposing-team villain. He was even booed during the All-Star game here in 2004.
He heard the same whenever his name was announced in this game. During the kiss cam feature on a break in the action, he was shown on the video board on the bench next to Ruslan Salei, seemingly oblivious to the jeering going on around him.
WCCO Interviews Todd Richards
Notes: The Wild reassigned rookie D Marco Scandella to their AHL club in Houston. He hadn’t played since a concussion on Jan. 14. The Wild dressed seven defensemen, moving fourth-liner Eric Nystrom up to play the wing with Cal Clutterbuck and C John Madden. … Red Wings C Valtteri Filppula sat out for the sixth straight game because of a knee injury. … This was the first time the Wild had a home game televised nationally by NBC. Public address announcer Adam Abrams encouraged the crowd to be loud, and the sound crew played the network’s signature three-note chime as an homage.
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