(Sports Network) – The Minnesota Wild are within reach of their first four- game winning streak in nearly a year, but in order to obtain that mark they will have to knock off the Western Conference co-leading Detroit Red Wings this evening at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild haven’t won four straight since Jan. 6-13, but are currently on their third three-game winning streak of the season. They extended their run on Thursday with a 3-1 victory in Colorado.
Matt Cullen scored twice and assisted on Andrew Brunette’s tally for his first two-goal and three-point game of the season. Niklas Backstrom came away with 36 saves.
“It was one of those games that you kind of understand the importance of it,” Cullen said. "It’s a big game. I think a lot of guys rose to the occasion. A lot of guys brought their A game, it’s such a crucial point in the season for us. It’s not easy to get on a roll. We wanted to fight to keep that momentum going.
“It was just a big win.”
The Wild will now look to get on a roll at home, where they have lost five of their last seven and are 8-7-2 this season.
Detroit has had its fair share of success in Minnesota, winning four of six while also going 8-2-1 with a tie in its last 12 played there.
Minnesota did notch a 4-3 overtime victory in Detroit on Nov. 19, getting the winner from John Madden. It was just the Wild’s third victory in their last 10 versus the Red Wings overall.
Backstrom did not start that game, sitting in favor of Jose Theodore, and is 1-3-2 with a 3.50 goals-against average in his career versus the Red Wings.
Detroit will look to grab some momentum tonight as it has lost three of its last four games, yielding four goals in each contest. It didn’t have the offense to make up that deficit last night, falling 4-3 in St. Louis.
Johan Franzen, Patrick Eaves and Nicklas Lidstrom all scored for the Red Wings, who lost the opener of a four-game swing and are 8-5-1 as the guest this season.
“It’s not easy to win games if you have to score five every day,” Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s something you have to look after.”
Detroit was playing without Pavel Datsyuk, who suffered a broken right hand on Wednesday that is expected to sideline him for a month. Franzen replaced him on a line with Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom.
Chris Osgood gave up four goals on 25 shots and was again denied in his bid to become just the 10th player in league history to reach 400 wins.
Detroit leads the Central Division with 46 points, but is tied with Dallas for the most in the West.
Jimmy Howard should get the nod over Osgood tonight and is 3-1-1 with a 2.73 GAA lifetime versus the Wild.