Marian Hossa had two assists and Ville Leino, who is quickly turning into a superstar here in Motown, scored a sweet little wraparound goal for his third in six games as the Detroit Red Wings cruised to their sixth straight victory with a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
But all was not hand shakes and back slapping, because at a time when Detroit can ill afford another injury that’s exactly what they got last night.
Brett Lebda is the newest casualty in the Wings locker room after ending up on the wrong side of a check by Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck behind the Detroit net. Said Wings coach Mike Babcock about the play:
“He tried to duck to get out of the way and the guy’s knee went into his back, so he’s all spasmed up and in big pain. We’ll just see how it goes day-to-day here.”
The Wings are already missing forwards Johan Franzen (bruised hand), Tomas Holmstrom (hernia surgery) and defenseman Brad Stuart (back, ribs) but refuse to allow those absences to slow them down.
“Without Mule, Homer and Stewie — those are real good players — and we’ve been able to clip along here and actually play better than we were,” Babcock said. “Pav and Z and those guys didn’t have to carry the offense, that’s real positive.”
Detroit broke a 1-1 tie in the second period with three unanswered goals, two of those coming off helpers from Hossa. Mikael Samuelsson opened the scoring for Detroit at 9:26 of the first period and the Wild’s Brent Burns tied it on a 5-on-3 power play at 15:31.
Jiri Hudler scored his 18th of the season at 10:22 after a pretty give-and-go with Hossa, and 50 seconds later Hossa set up a bullet from Kris Draper from the top of the circle.
“In the second, I think we took off, we were creative,” Hossa said. “That was great, everybody skated, everybody tried to get open for each other and create lots of chances. You got so much talented players on our team, it’s nice to see us play that way.”
Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu scored a nifty shorthanded goal at 10:25 of the third after burning Mikael Samuelsson, who was caught back on defense.
Chris Osgood also played his best hockey in weeks after being publicly criticized by Babcock and watching Ty Conklin get the start for the last three games. Said Osgood:
“That’s the worst I’ve played in a stretch in my career. Let’s be honest, I had a couple of brain cramps a game. We tried to figure it out. There’s a lot more that goes into it than me stepping onto the ice. I decided to clear out my mind. I watched tape from games from last year. It was more mental than anything.”
“He’s been a mirror image of our team. The rest of us are cranking it up, he’ll crank it up now. He’s a veteran with a lot of playoff games and knows what it takes to win at that time of year. You want to get him rolling, so he’s feeling the best about himself on the way in (to the playoffs).”
Detroit plays again tonight against Columbus.