Wild 3, Red Wings 2

The Minnesota Wild have had to work a bit harder to generate any

offense this season. That’s what made Jason Zucker zooming past

everybody for a highlight-reel goal such a welcome sight.

Dany Heatley, Zucker and Torrey Mitchell all scored in the

second period to rally Minnesota over the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 on

Sunday night.

It was Minnesota’s first regulation win since Jan. 29 and just

the second time it scored at least three goals in regulation over

the last nine games.

”It’s big. I’m not going to sit here and say this makes our

season,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. ”We’ve still got a lot of work

to do and we’re focused on continuing to get better as a group. But

this is huge.”

Damien Brunner and Pavel Datsyuk scored for Detroit, which has

lost three straight for the first time since March 10-21 of last

season.

”You have to win and get points in this league, otherwise you

lose sight of things in a hurry,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock

said. ”Right now, we’re taking on water.”

After Heatley snapped a nine-game scoring drought to make it

2-1, Zucker went coast-to-coast and scored his first NHL goal to

tie it.

Zucker was called up on Saturday to try and spark the Wild’s

offense. The 2010 second-round pick showed off his speed and made a

slick move on Valtteri Flippula to break free and score

unassisted.

”For me, I skate fast and I try to get the puck on net,”

Zucker said. ”That’s what I do.”

Asked about his shoot-first mentality, Zucker smiled and said:

”I’m not exactly a passer. I’m trying to get the puck on net and

limit my passing.”

Mitchell scored his first goal in a Wild uniform off a faceoff

scrum to give Minnesota the lead 30 seconds later.

Several Minnesota players are sick, but Zucker’s pure speed and

the play of backup goalie Darcy Kuemper made the Wild feel

better.

Kuemper found out he was starting five minutes before the game

due to regular goalie Niklas Backstrom being sick. After stopping

28 of 30 shots in his debut Tuesday, a 2-1 loss at Vancouver,

Kuemper made 29 saves on Sunday.

Despite allowing 14 shots and hearing boos from the home crowd,

the Wild only trailed 1-0 after the first period.

Brunner whacked the puck past Kuemper to give Detroit the lead

at 8:48. Ryan Suter couldn’t clear the bouncing puck and Brunner

took advantage.

”I knew I didn’t get much of a warm-up so they got one quick

there and I just tried to ease myself in the game,” Kuemper said.

”I just tried to continue to prepare myself and give our team a

chance.”

Datsyuk, back after missing a game with a shoulder injury, beat

the rookie with a wrist shot from outside the left circle 20

seconds into the second.

Then the Wild woke up and scored three times on rookie goalie

Petr Mrazek in a span of 4:10 to take a 3-2 lead.

”I don’t know what happened in the locker room between periods,

but we made some mistakes right from the start,” Detroit coach

Mike Babcock said. ”We never generated much after that.”

It wasn’t just the Wild’s offense that got rolling in the second

period. Thanks to a diving save by Kuemper early and strong defense

throughout, Minnesota killed a four-minute high-sticking penalty to

close the second.

”We had a few chances. One of those has to go in,” said

Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg. ”If it does, this would be a

different game.”

Besides the stretch in the second, Mrazek was solid, stopping 24

shots.

The Red Wings are now 8-2-2 in their last 12 games against

Minnesota.

Notes: Minnesota’s Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Justin Falk missed

the game due to illness. Zenon Konopka was a healthy scratch. …

Zetterberg had two assists and has 20 points in his last 14 games.

… Zucker led AHL Houston with 19 goals and 41 assists. … Mikael

Samuelsson returned from a groin injury and played in his third

game of the season for Detroit.