ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — In his first action in 568 days, Josh Harding didn’t get the help he needed to gave the Minnesota Wild two points in the standings.
Johan Franzen scored a power-play goal at 4:11 of overtime in the Detroit Red Wings’ 3-2 comeback victory over the Wild on Saturday night.
Ian White and Jiri Hudler also scored for Detroit, which trailed 2-0 in the second period.
After a scramble in front of the Wild net, Tomas Holmstrom backhanded a short pass and Franzen fought off a check and poked it in. The play was upheld by video review. It was Detroit’s first power-play goal in 19 chances this season.
“I got cross-checked in the back as soon as I touched the puck. I don’t know how the puck went in,” Franzen said. “It wasn’t a beautiful play, it was kind of a broken play.”
Detroit is 4-0 for the first time since 1997-98, a season that ended with the Red Wings hoisting the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings won a team-best six in a row to begin the 1972-73 season.
Greg Zanon and Cal Clutterbuck scored for Minnesota, which was outshot 41-14.
It was Harding’s first start since March 26, 2010, at Detroit. He left that game with a hip/labrum injury to end his season. But things got worse six months later when he tore two ligaments in a preseason game that forced him to miss all of last season.
“Josh was outstanding tonight. He got us a point. We are really disappointed that we couldn’t get a second point for him,” Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. “He got us to overtime, gave us a chance to get a second one. … He was great tonight.”
Harding didn’t need to make any spectacular saves — although a left pad stop on a Niklas Lidstrom slap shot late in the third period could qualify — but he was fundamentally sound throughout, moving side-to-side, squaring up against shooters and controlling rebounds.
“I’m happy with the way I played. There’s still a lot of work to do. I can definitely get smoother and more crisp on my movement, but it’s definitely a good starting point,” he said. “I realize how lucky I am to be playing in the NHL right now.”
His future with the team in doubt, Harding signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the team July 1, the first day of NHL free agency. Jose Theodore played well backing up Niklas Backstrom last season, but Theodore wanted to compete for a full-time starting job and signed a two-year deal with Florida.
“It’s my job to make the organization realize that they made a good decision,” Harding said.
Zanon gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead with 11.3 seconds left in the opening period beating Jimmy Howard, who was screened, with a slap shot from the top of the slot. It was Zanon’s first goal in 136 games dating to Dec. 12, 2009. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Zanon had the second-longest goal-less drought in the league. Mattias Ohlund of Tampa Bay is scoreless in 141 straight games.
It was also the first goal allowed by Detroit in 141 minutes, 19 seconds dating to opening night.
Clutterbuck gave the Wild a 2-0 lead 16 seconds into the second period, one-timing a feed from Colton Gilles past Howard.
Detroit controlled play throughout the middle period, and finally beat Harding with 47.7 seconds left when White picked up a loose puck in the left circle, cut across the crease and beat Harding low on the glove side. The goal came about 75 seconds after Pavel Datsyuk fired wide on 2-on-none breakaway.
“We let our foot off the gas in the middle of the game and gave them some life,” said Wild center Matt Cullen.
Hudler scored at 3:46 of the third period, tipping in a shot from Jakub Kindl.
“Kindl saw him the whole way and made the great seam pass through. I thought Kindl had his best game since he’s been a Red Wing tonight,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. Kindl played his 55th game wearing a Detroit sweater.
Howard, 7-0-1 in his last eight starts against Minnesota, finished with 12 saves.
NOTES: Minnesota has played three straight overtime/shootout games for the first time since Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2009. … Of Zanon’s 10 career goals, four have come against the Red Wings. … This was the first of three meetings in a 17-day span between the non-divisional foes. … Detroit D Brad Stuart played after aggravating his groin in Thursday’s game and not practicing Friday.
WCCO Interviews Devin Setoguchi
WCCO Interviews Greg Zanon
WCCO Interviews Matt Cullen
WCCO Interviews Josh Harding
Mike Yeo’s Post-Game Press Conference
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