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Hobbled Red Wings continue playoff push in Minnesota
(SportsNetwork.com) - The injury-riddled Detroit Red Wings didn't show any quit last time out and take aim at a third victory in a row on Saturday afternoon as they visit the Minnesota Wild in the opener of a home-and-home series.
The Red Wings are one point out of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference despite a list of injured players that includes Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk among many others. Still, Detroit is chasing a 23rd straight trip to the postseason and boosted its chances on Thursday night with a thrilling 5-4 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Detroit was forced to kill off a five-minute major by David Legwand for jamming Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin with the butt end of his stick, leaving the Red Wings shorthanded for the final 3:46 of regulation and the first 74 seconds of overtime.
With time winding down, a turnover in the Detroit end saw the Red Wings go the other way on a 3-on-1. Skating down the right wing, Daniel Alfredsson let fly with a shot that Marc-Andre Fleury stopped, but the rebound came out front, went off Pittsburgh's Rob Scuderi and made it into the net with just 0.4 seconds left on the clock.
"I didn't know there was only a few seconds left but I saw it go in before the horn went off so I thought it would be good," said Alfredsson, who finished with two goals and an assist. "Big break for us and we'll gladly take it today."
Gustav Nyquist scored a goal in his third straight game, with four tallies and an assist over that span, while Tomas Tatar and Todd Bertuzzi also scored. Jimmy Howard made 39 saves in Detroit's third victory in four games.
There is a chance that the Red Wings could get an injured player back as forward Darren Helm has been cleared to return from concussion-related issues that have held him out of the past eight games. However, it is unknown if he will play today.
Howard is expected to get the start and is 9-3-2 with a 2.10 goals against average in his career versus the Wild.
The Red Wings are tied with Washington at 77 points, and both clubs are just a point behind Columbus, which is idle on Saturday. Detroit holds two games in hand over the Capitals, who are visiting San Jose tonight.
Minnesota owns an eight-point edge for a wild card spot in the Western Conference and has won just twice in its last eight games. However, the Wild have notched a point in six of those contests, including Thursday's 4-3 overtime setback to the New Jersey Devils.
Zach Parise, who captained the Devils to the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals and spent his first seven NHL seasons with New Jersey before signing with the Wild, scored one of Minnesota's three third-period goals that erased a 2-0 deficit.
"It was fun to be back, but unfortunately the outcome wasn't what we were planning on," Parise said. "We were able to claw back into the game and get a point. That could be a big one later in the year.
"In a way, I'm kind of glad it's over."
Matt Cooke and Mikael Granlund also tallied for Minnesota, which received 25 saves out of Ilya Bryzgalov in his second straight start.
Darcy Kuemper is expected to get the nod for the Wild today and he beat the Red Wings the only other time he faced them, allowing two goals on 31 shots faced.
The Wild have won two straight and four of their past six meetings with the Red Wings overall, as well as the last two played in Minnesota.
The clubs will complete their home-and-home series Sunday evening in Detroit.
03/22 11:15:32 ET