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MINNY MALLS HOWARD.....Minnesota 5, RED WINGS 2, Sa 2/21/09
Posted on: 02-21-2009

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>>caption:  THE WILD HOUNDED


    The Wild wanted to jump on
Wings rookie goalie Jimmy Howard
early and they did. Minnesota
out-shot Detroit 13-8 in the opening period to take a 2-0 lead on a pair of
Owen Nolan goals, and skated to a 5-2 Saturday night victory.
    Minnesota beat Detroit for the first time in three years and for only the
second time ever (in regulation) in St. Paul.
    It was the first time in eight games the Wild had scored at least four goals.
    Although 8-2-1 in their last 11 overall outings, the Wings are only 2-5-1 in
their last eight away contests.
    Nolan's first goal (#16) came just 2:50 into the game on a close-in wrister
that deflected off both Detroit DEF Chris Chelios and Howard as it entered the
net. Owen's second (a team-leading #17) came during a delayed penalty call with
the Wild already on the power play. Nolan did a stickhandle tuck past Howard
at 8:15/1 when the Detroit DEF allowed Nolan too much room to maneuver.
Complicating the matter was the fact Detroit PK specialist Kirk Maltby was
playing without a stick on Nolan's PPG.
    The Red Wings got as close as they'd come at 2-1 when new daddy Tomas
Kopecky (#3) flicked a wrister past Minny goalie Niklas Backstrom at 2:55/2.
(Kopecky became a father for a second time when second son Tobias was
born a bit early at Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital just after the Wings had
checked into their Minnesota hotel early Saturday morning.) Ville Leino sent a
backhand pass in front and off the stick of Wild DEF Brent Burns. Kopecky
converted for his first goal of 2009, last scoring 12/30/2008 at The Joe vs
    Minnesota regained control with a pair of goals 1:31 apart late in the
2nd-Per. Pierre-Marc Bouchard (#14) and Martin Skoula (#1) both scored
on snapshots at 17:13/2 and 18:44/2.
    Minnesota played its trademark 5-man defense with a 3-goal lead for most
of the 3rd-Per. Then, Leino (#4) tipped a Brian Rafalski slapshot at 14:45/3 to
get Detroit within 4-2. However, in spite of a half dozen scoring chances with
Howard pulled for an extra attacker, it was the Wild which scored the last goal.
Stephane Veilleux (#7) got an empty-netter with just 1.8-sec on the clock.    
    Minnesota was 1-for-3 and Detroit 0-for-5 on the power play against the
Wild's NHL-leading PK unit.
    Backstrom made 35-SV and Howard 24.
    Up from Grand Rapids, Howard made his first NHL start in almost a year
(2/23/2008). He still has just one win in his nine career NHL games, coming
in his second contest on 11/28/2005. Howard returned immediately to the
AHL Griffins for a Sunday contest.
    Minnesota ended its three game losing skid while also stopping Detroit's
brief two game win string.

R-WINGS H-COACH MIKE BABCOCK:   "They box in the neutral zone, they
get above and below you. And their goalie made a ton of saves. Its not like
we didn't have opportunities, he just played well...They had more energy
than us early...We had more life as the game went on...(Howard has) built
a good foundation for himself. He looks big, he looks square (in his technique).
Now he has to keep the puck out of the net."

R-WINGS GOALIE JIMMY HOWARD:   "It definitely didn't go as planned. I'm still
going to take some good things out of this game. I wish I could've done more
with the opportunity I received here, but I still believe in myself and think
that I'll be an NHL goalie one day."

WILD H-COACH JACQUES LEMAIRE:   "All of a sudden I like the team because
everyone's working and everyone's doing what they were supposed to do...
Tonight we made better plays and we got good shots on net."

WILD CEN PIERRE-MARC BORCHARD:   "It was definitely the way we wanted to
start. We were on the puck with good skating. From back in net, from our D,
from every forward, I think everybody stepped up their game."


    Leino was re-inserted to the lineup when CEN Kris Draper (who scored
Detroit's last goal in a Friday 5-2 home win over Anaheim) was a healthy scratch
for the first time in his NHL career.
    Rookie Leino has 4-G & 3-A in his 10 games since getting called-up from
Grand Rapids. 
    It was just the second time in 16 all-time visits to St. Paul the Red Wings
have lost to the Wild in regulation (10-2-4). The Wings had won 16 of the
previous 19 overall meetings and are now 20-5-6 against Minnesota's second
NHL franchise.
    Skoula's goal was his first in 72 games dating back nearly a year to 3/2/2008.
    The NHL's longest current ironman streak came to an end at 509 consecutive
games-played when Wild L-Wing Andrew Brunette was unable to suit up due to
a knee injury.  
    Minnesota Rt-Wing Craig Weller returned after missing 13 games with a head


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