With some questions in the goaltending spot to start the game because Darcy Kuemper's illness forced Devan Dubnyk to start not even though he's completely 100 percent. Nursing a tender right arm, Dubnyk stopped all but one of the 29 shots he faced to help the Wild gain the victory. Charlie Coyle continued his hot streak with a goal, and Mikko Koivu's power play tally late in the third period was the difference.
The Wild looked to get back to its game in front of 19,110 friendly fans before heading out on the road to finish out the 2015 calendar year. It was a good response to the putrid horrid that was Saturday night's game versus the Penguins. Minnesota blocked 23 shots in the game as the Wild kept getting denied by Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek time and time again. Charlie Coyle scored on a great toe drag move around Brendan Smith before picking the upper corner over Mrazek. Minnesota thought it scored again when Matt Dumba batted a puck out of mid-air into the net, but upon review, it was clearly obvious that the stick made contact with the puck above the crossbar. But that would be it for Minnesota for a long time in this game. Mrazek stopped everything that came his way by challenging every shooter by coming way out of his crease.
With a couple 2-on-1's that featured Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker kept getting denied by the aggressive Detroit netminder. Dubnyk was tested often as well. He scrambled in his crease to keep the puck out by doing a few crappie flops and got lucky when Niklas Kronwall shot wide once the puck got filtered back out to the point. Overall, Dubnyk was solid and was just 1:57 from another shutout.
The second period saw the Wild's game slip a bit as more and more of its chances came on some one-and-dones with only a couple good shifts from the Zucker - Koivu - Vanek, and the Coyle - Erik Haula - Nino Niederreiter lines sprinkled in. Danny DeKeyser mugged Zach Parise on a shift late in the 2nd period, and Ryan Suter and Justin Abdelkader got into a little skirmish behind the Red Wings' net before those two were assessed matching roughing minors. The officiating was sketchy at best. Wes McCauley and Kevin Pollack allowed a ton of extra things go for both teams. Marco Scandella tripped Pavel Datsyuk without a call. Niederreiter was slashed while taking a shot, but then gave Kronwall a slight shove from behind in retaliation and was called for a cross check in the third period.
In the third period, Minnesota got back to getting the puck deep and going to work on the defensemen of the Wings. Zucker had a backhander denied on a breakaway. Then another 2-on-1 break with Vanek and Zucker ended with Zucker getting tripped up by Mike Green and colliding hard into the end-boards. This gave the Wild a power play with just under four minutes to play. Zach Parise's centering pass across the crease handcuffed Matt Dumba a bit and Mrazek shovled the puck off the goal line - right to Koivu. Koivu didn't waste any time before shooting the puck into the net to give the Wild a 2-0 lead.
The Red Wings would get on the board just 29 seconds later when Datsyuk scored from the slot on a nice centering feed from behind the net by Abdelkader. With the deficit to just one, Jeff Blashill pulled Mrazek for the extra-attacker. Koivu then made a good defensive play at the Wild blue line before depositing the puck into the gaping Red Wing net to seal the victory.
Charlie Coyle has been freaking solid the past four games (if not the whole season) and has been really finding his scoring touch. Getting moved to the Wing with Haula at the pivot, and Niederreiter on the other flank has been a huge help in this late emergence. Haula's head-to-head match-ups were great and he provided two shots on goal on a line that combined for nine shots.
Wild finish 2015 Thursday night in St. Louis against the Blues. Check back to Hockey Wilderness as we countdown to the new year and another Wild game.