For the first three games of the 2013 season, a Detroit Red Wings power play goal was something like Bigfoot: often mentioned but never actually seen. With the Minnesota Wild visiting on Friday night, the Wings rediscovered their knack with the man advantage at just the right time.
Damien Brunner and Pavel Datsyuk ended the streak of power play futility, and Todd Bertuzziadded two goals as the Red Wings topped the Wild 5-3 at Joe Louis Arena. A wild (no pun intended) second period featured six total goals and had the special team units on the ice for large chunks of time.
Brunner’s second goal of the season opened the scoring just 13 seconds into the second period, with Minnesota’s Tom Gilbert off for cross checking. A Henrik Zetterberg pass released him across the blue line, and the rookie forward unleashed a laser that beat Wild goalie Josh Harding high over his right shoulder.
Three goals in the next five minutes knotted the game at 2-2. But a cross-ice backhand feed from Datsyuk allowed Zetterberg to put the Wings in front at the 12:56 mark of the second, and the Magic Man’s wrist shot on the power play four minutes later proved to be the game-winner.
Another gorgeous assist from Datsyuk set up Bertuzzi’s second goal 4:18 into the final frame. Playing in his first game of the season after a bout with mono, Bertuzzi nearly had his first hat trick with Detroit on a rebound chance. He was also on the ice after the Wild pulled Harding with just under two minutes left in regulation, but was never quite in position to go for an empty netter.
Valteri Filppula had three assists playing on a line with Datsyuk and Bertuzzi. Zach Parise–who heard boos from the fans at the Joe every time he touched the puck early on–scored twice for the Wild. Minnesota finished 1-for-8 on the power play, while Detroit shook off its 0-for-17 start to 2013 by going 2-for-5.
Besides Bertuzzi, the Wings had Darren Helm and Jakub Kindl in the lineup for the first time this season. Yet the blueline corps remains an injury-riddled one for now, and it nearly got another blow when defenseman Brendan Smith narrowly avoided taking a puck to the face in the first period.
Detroit will hit the road this weekend, traveling to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks on Sunday night. The Wings return to Joe Louis Arena next week for a pair of games, hosting the Dallas Stars on Tuesday and the St. Louis Blues next Friday.
The game was over when…
Datsyuk worked his magic for the second time. His cross-ice pass missed the sticks of several scrambling Wild players to find Bertuzzi crashing in from the right, and the conversion was a relatively easy one to put the Red Wings up 5-2. It will be interesting to see if coach Mike Babcock keeps the Filppula-Datsyuk-Bertuzzi line together, because the early results were promising indeed.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…
The man who made possible what the Red Wings announcers called the first “proper” power play goal of the season, Johan Franzen. The Mule’s perfect screen on Harding (with highly prized free agent Ryan Suter standing to his left doing… well, nothing really) gave Datsyuk the opening he needed to fire his wrister with no chance of being stopped.