Dan Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg banked in two early goals to help the Detroit Red Wings get a much needed 4-1 victory in Minnesota on Sunday.
Kris Draper and Tomas Homstrom also scored for the Red Wings, who were coming off a tough 4-3 loss in St. Louis on Thursday. Jimmy Howard returned to the Detroit net after getting a one game break and made 15 saves.
Brent Burns scored the lone goal for the Wild and Niklas Backstrom stopped 23 shots.
Detroit got a solid defensive effort after a recent run of shaky performances. The Red Wings had given up at least four goals in their past four outings and will be without Selke Trophy-winner Pavel Datsyuk for at least a month after the forward broke his hand on Wednesday. Detroit gave up just 16 shots to Minnesota—their second lowest total of the year—and killed off five of six penalties.
Zetterberg banked in a shot at the 4:38 mark of the first period to give the Wings the game’s first goal. Five minutes later, Cleary threw the puck from behind the net off Backstrom for his team-leading 16th goal.
The Wings kept the momentum going in the second period. Draper scored his first goal of the season five and a half minutes in, tipping in a shot from Niklas Kronwall past Backstrom to push the lead to three. Draper missed the first portion of the season with a groin injury and will see an increased role with Datsyuk on the mend.
Holmstrom got his 10th goal of the year with six minutes left in the frame, stuffing home a rebound off Zetterberg’s drive on the power play after Kyle Brodziak took a penalty for cross checking Darren Helm face-first into the boards.
Burns finished off the scoring on the power play late in the third, stuffing a rebound under Howard’s right pad to avert the shutout, but it was too late for the home team.
The Red Wings experienced a slight scare late in the third period when Cleary took a Brad Stuart shot off his skate that sent him crumpling to the ice in pain. Cleary labored over to the Red Wings bench, but appeared to shake the pain off and returned to the game minutes later.
The Wings return to action tomorrow night in Colorado.