Well, this game lived up to the cliches "It's the new NHL!" and "It was a Wild game!," the over-used material Ken Daniels repeated as the Wild climbed out of a 4-0 first period deficit to bring it within one goal in the second. But the Wings got an important insurance goal from defenseman Andreas Lilja, his first as a Red Wing, to make it 5-3 Wings. It proved to be the game-winner in a 5-4 win against the Wild in the Xcel Energy Center. Chris Osgood got the start for the Wings, but was pulled after allowing 4 goals on 10 shots through two periods of play. Manny Legace came in and allowed one goal on six shots in the third. The Wild had their own goaltender shuffle, with Fernandez pulled after his tough first period, replaced by Roloson. Shots were 27-16 Wings. The Wings shuffled a lot of their lines tonight as well - check the lines below.
The Wings owned the first period, beating the Wild to loose pucks and outshooting them 14-6. Steve Yzerman opened the scoring with a power play goal at 4:19, assisted by Williams and Shanahan. It was the Captain's 200th career power play goal. On the play, the Captain picked up his own rebound on a shot between the circles, and muscled it in on a sprawled Fernandez. 1-0 Wings.
Just 53 seconds later, the Wings got an even strength goal from Lang, assists Williams and Holmstrom. 2-0 Wings. And at 9:59, Samuelsson scored, assist Zetterberg. 3-0 Wings.
At 17:24, Zetterberg scored a neat even strength goal, assists to Samuelsson and Lidstrom. On the play, Zetterberg carried the puck from the near boards across the mouth of the crease. He waited for Fernandez to drop for a save, and found a tough angle, but an empty net to make it 4-0 Wings. The Wild were booed off the ice as 20 minutes expired.
Fernandez was pulled, and Roloson started the second period. It was all Wild during the second. The Wings looked like they were floating around, and the Wings' coaching staff warning the team about that during intermission didn't seem to help. Even strength goals from Gaborik (3:53), White (16:53), and Zyuzin (17:51) made it 4-3. The Wild only had four shots in the second, but three goals resulted. 4-3 Wings. Osgood was pulled as a result, and Legace came in at the start of the third.
After trading periods, the Wings and Wild were both skating well in the third and it looked like the goals swings were over. At 1:48 Lang was called for hooking - something he's been getting called for nearly every game. On the play, he had one hand on his stick and tripped a Wild player when it got caught between his legs. It was a standard call in the new NHL, and Lang better adapt to that eventually.
At 11:53, Lilja scored his first goal as a Red Wing, a point shot even strength, assisted by Lang and Draper. 5-3 Wings. With the Wild still confident, and the home crowd 100% behind them (after booing them 20 minutes in), the Wild were poised to get back within one. It came at 14:11, on a harmless point shot from Kuba, with no traffic in front of Legace. 5-4 Wings. Legace made up for it a short time later, making a clutch save on a Randy Robitaille breakaway with less than five to go.
The Wings held onto their lead, even as the Wild gained a 6-on-4 advantage with Roloson pulled and Maltby called with a boarding major and game misconduct with around 20 seconds left. 5-4 Wings final. Shots in the game were 27-16 Wings.
Overall, it was a bittersweet win for the Wings. They finally got an even strength goal (4 in the game), and scored early for once (4-0 lead after 1 period). Unfortunately, the cliches fought back and the "new NHL" allowed the Wild to creep back within a goal. The Wings had a tough night in net, Osgood allowing 4 goals on 10 shots and Legace 1 goal on 6 shots. I'm sure the Wings will just be happy to get on the plane back to Detroit and that their January schedule is over, especially the past couple weeks. The Wings were 8-4-2 in January, but have lost 3 of the last 5 - two of which were losses to Central Division points-rival Nashville.
The Wings will have to watch out on Wednesday for the Blues, who have dumped some salaries, some "Weight" you might say (sorry but the horrible puns have taken ahold of me), but have nothing to lose. They won 3-2 tonight against the Flames, with rookie Lee Stempniak, just called up from the minors, scoring the winner during the fifth round of the shootout.
*compiled by Brian