(Sports Network) – Jimmy Howard only had to make 16 saves to post his 19th win of the season in Detroit’s 4-1 dismantling of Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center.
“We had sticks in front of the net all night,” Howard said. “We deflected shots from all sides and guys did a good job cutting off wings and not letting them have shots.”
Henrik Zetterberg scored a goal and notched an assist for the Red Wings, who have won two of their last three to remain atop of the Western Conference with 48 points.
Danny Cleary, Kris Draper and Tomas Holmstrom each scored in the win, while Niklas Kronwall chipped in two assists.
Brent Burns scored the lone goal for the Wild, who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Niklas Backstrom gave up four goals on 27 shots in the loss.
“They really controlled the puck,” said Wild center John Madden. “It’s pretty hard to play against, especially with our effort tonight.”
Zetterberg struck first for the Red Wings at the 4:38 mark of the opening period. He chipped in a rebound off Kronwall’s shot from the slot.
Detroit built a 2-0 edge at 8:59 of the first when Cleary scored from a sharp angle on a feed from Valtteri Filppula.
Draper made it a three-goal rally in the second period when he deflected Kronwall’s shot from the left point with the shaft of his stick, sending the disc over Backstrom’s shoulder.
Holmstrom banged home a lose puck in the crease during a power play to make the lead 4-0 with 6:10 left in the second.
Minnesota struggled to produce any scoring chances and had just nine shots through 40 minutes of play, while Detroit had nine shots in the second period alone and 22 total through the first two periods.
The Wild finally got on the board during a power play with 3:40 left to play. Burns scored the goal when he backhanded a bouncing puck past Howard after teammate Martin Havlat lost the puck in tight.
The Wild are 8-8-2 this season at home…Detroit has won five of its last seven games in Minnesota…There were eight penalties in the first period — four from each team. Both clubs finished 1-for-6 on the man advantage.