Red Wings-Wild Preview

The signings of two high-profile free agents haven’t led the

Minnesota Wild to more consistent performances. The Detroit Red

Wings, meanwhile, are also having trouble staying in a groove

because of injuries, and perhaps the absence of a future Hall of

Famer.

Both teams will seek to avoid a third straight loss when they

meet Sunday night at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild (6-6-2) were hoping to end a franchise-worst

four-season playoff drought and join the NHL’s elite after inking

forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter to 13-year deals,

both worth $98 million.

Minnesota, though, hasn’t won more than two games in a row and

is 2-4-1 this month. The Wild couldn’t protect a one-goal lead in

the third period Thursday against visiting Colorado, and ended up

suffering a 4-3 shootout loss.

“It was there to be taken, if you do the things to take it.

There was a lack of urgency, I would say, in a lot of areas,” coach

Mike Yeo said. “I don’t think we were prepared to play the right

way. … We need more consistency. We need some people to really

step up.”

If there were any promising signs, it perhaps came from

Minnesota’s reunited top line of Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany

Heatley, which produced a pair of goals. The Wild hadn’t scored

more than two in any of their first six games this month and are

near the bottom in the league on the season at 2.0 per game.

The Wild scored three times in Detroit on Jan. 25, including two

goals from Parise, but couldn’t keep the Red Wings out of the net

in a 5-3 defeat.

Detroit is 8-1-2 in its last 11 games against Minnesota and has

outscored the Wild 11-3 in back-to-back wins, but has experienced

its own defensive struggles lately.

The Red Wings (7-5-2) have given up a combined nine goals in

consecutive defeats after allowing four during a season-high

three-game winning streak. They let Anaheim score twice early in

the third period to break a tie score in Friday’s 5-2 loss.

“We felt good going out for the third (period) but unfortunately

those two quick ones kind of killed the game,” captain Henrik

Zetterberg said.

Former captain and star defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was in

attendance while visiting Detroit from his native Sweden. The Red

Wings are probably wishing the seven-time Norris Trophy winner was

playing a 21st season as they’ve surrendered at least four goals in

five of 14 games (35.7 percent). They gave up four scores 24.4

percent of the time (20 of 82 games) in 2011-12.

Detroit has been outscored 41-37 in 2012-13 and a rash of

injuries haven’t helped. Pavel Datsyuk is day-to-day with a sore

shoulder while Johan Franzen (hip) and Todd Bertuzzi (back) are

among seven players on injured reserve.

“Whoever we’ve got, we’re going to get them to play as hard as

we possibly can,” coach Mike Babcock said.

Bertuzzi scored his only two goals of the season against the

Wild while Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula had three points apiece in

that victory.

While hoping to get Datsyuk back, Detroit will try to improve on

an 11-3-1 record in its last 15 visits to Minnesota. The Red Wings,

though, lost 1-0 in their most recent game there Oct. 29, 2011.

Detroit hasn’t dropped three straight since an 0-4-2 skid March

10-21 while the Wild have already experienced a pair of three-game

losing streaks.