Wild beat Red Wings for second straight win
DETROIT — Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau was asked about this upcoming stretch, when the Wild will face some of the top teams in the NHL.
"We playing anybody any good?" he joked.
Luke Kunin and Jordan Greenway scored in the first period, and Minnesota went on to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night. Now the schedule becomes substantially harder for the Wild, who are in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference. Their next six games are against St. Louis, Winnipeg, Calgary, Nashville twice, and then Tampa Bay.
"I saw this two and a half months ago, and it wasn't something that you want to go through, but it either makes or breaks you," Boudreau said. "You prove that you can play with the big boys or you get washed away."
The Wild are 3-6-3 in their last 12 games but occupy the final playoff spot in the West after sweeping back-to-back road games against the Rangers and Red Wings.
Eric Staal added a goal in the second period for Minnesota.
Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha scored for Detroit.
"I thought (Dylan) Larkin's line was going, but someone needs to pick up the other lines," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "They are a good defensive team, but I don't think we made it nearly hard enough on them."
The Wild took a 1-0 lead when Kunin scored on a rebound after Detroit goalie Jonathan Bernier stopped Joel Eriksson Ek's stuff attempt. Greenway then beat Bernier from the slot to make it a two-goal game.
The Red Wings pulled within one in the second period when Bertuzzi deflected Filip Hronek's shot past goalie Devan Dubnyk, but Staal answered with his 18th of the season, knocking a loose puck into the net during a goal-mouth scramble on a Minnesota power play.
"That was a long time coming," said Staal, who hadn't scored since Jan. 23. "I really needed one and it came at a huge point of the game so it really felt good. We know we're going to have to win a lot of games if we want to stay in this."
Mantha made it 3-2 with a power-play goal with 16:54 remaining in the third. His shot may have nicked Minnesota defenseman Jonas Brodin on the way in.
The Red Wings rallied from a four-goal deficit in the third period against Philadelphia on Saturday, and erased a three-goal deficit in the third against Chicago on Wednesday. But they lost both games in overtime — and against Minnesota, they were unable to come back.
"You're not going to keep coming back against the good teams in the NHL," Bertuzzi said.
NOTES: The Red Wings traded D Nick Jensen earlier in the day to Washington for D Madison Bowey. The teams also exchanged draft picks. Bowey was expected to arrive in the Detroit area Friday, and general manager Ken Holland said it would be up to Blashill to decide if Bowey will play in the team's next game Sunday. ... Dubnyk nearly made a costly mistake in the first period when he ventured to the corner to play the puck. He lost possession to Detroit's Darren Helm, who quickly shot toward the vacated net, but Mikael Granlund came over for the Wild to prevent the puck from going in. ... Blashill said Red Wings prospect Filip Zadina will be called up to play Sunday. Detroit took him with the sixth pick in last year's draft.
Wild: Host St. Louis on Sunday night.
Red Wings: Host San Jose on Sunday.