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Updated: March 2nd, 2012 10:14pm
Wild flounder from start to finish in lopsided shutout loss at Detroit

Wild flounder from start to finish in lopsided shutout loss at Detroit

by Nate Sandell
1500ESPN.com
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There was no late comeback in sight this time.

The Minnesota Wild -- one day after salvaging a point in a shootout loss with a last minute, three-goal rally at Montreal -- rebounded with a lifeless performance in Detroit on Friday.

Outplayed in nearly every facet, the Wild were helpless to stop an offensive beating from the Red Wings, surrendering five goals in the first two periods en route to a 6-0 shutout -- their most lopsided defeat of the year.

Headlined by a pair of goals from Valtteri Filppula, Detroit relentlessly berated the Wild defense, which spent a bulk of the game unsuccessfully trying to clear the puck from its own zone.

Goaltender Josh Harding became increasingly bewildered as he was pounded with 29 shots before he was yanked in the third period after the Red Wings banked in their sixth goal.

Harding's woes were not shared by Detroit goalie Josh Howard, who was the beneficiary of an uninspired offensive showing from the Wild. Facing only five shots in each of the first two periods, Howard was a perfect 19-for-19 on the night in his fourth shutout this season.

The Wild -- losers of three straight -- remain rooted to 12th place in the Western Conference. Five points removed from the final playoff spot (28-27-10, 66 pts.), their postseason aspirations continue to fade.

The skinny

Detroit was on its way to a rout in less than a minute.

Given no time to settle in, the Wild found themselves retreating to meet the Red Wings' attack almost immediately after the opening face-off. Henrik Zetterberg softly placed what appeared to be a harmless shot on net. Harding made a stick save only to be swiftly beat on a put-back by Filppula 35 seconds in.

The Wild were slow to react and it allowed Detroit to haul in full control of the game. The deficit expanded to 2-0 four minutes from the first intermission when a failed clearance left the Red Wings space to set-up a centered shot on net. Brendan Smith deftly tracked the rebound and knocked in a heavy-handed slap shot off the rebound.

Already reeling, the Wild went from bad to worse in the second period.

Detroit, with its lead up to three after Darren Helm's blistering shot got past Harding, notched back-to-back goals just over a minute apart at the end of the second to firmly take the Wild out of contention.

Coach Mike Yeo finally opted to pull Harding early in the third when the flustered goalie was caught glaringly out of position on the Red Wings' sixth goal that further added to the Wild's misery.

Backup Matt Hackett stopped six shots in relief of Harding, but it made no difference as the Wild contributed no offensive support.

Turning point

The Wild never made a game out of this one. Lacking fight and any sense of rhythm, they were kept in disarray throughout the night by the superior Red Wings.

Numbers game

4: Goals allowed by the Wild in the first three minutes of the first period in their last four games. Detroit's Filppula scored 35 seconds into the game on Friday.

0-6-2: Harding's road record since returning from injury in mid-December.

6: Times this season that the Wild have given up five or more goals, with Harding on the hook in four of those six games.

Health watch

• Injured early in the first period Thursday at Montreal, goaltender Niklas Backstrom will miss two to four weeks with a strained groin, coach Mike Yeo announced Friday. The window for Backstrom to return before the end of the season is small, with five weeks remaining.

It was another blow to the Wild's fleeting depth three days after captain Mikko Koivu was shut down for at least two weeks with a left shoulder injury.

Matt Hackett was recalled from the Houston Aeros (AHL) to fill the empty spot created by Backstrom's absence.

Scoring summary

First period

• Detroit -- Valtteri Filppula (20), assisted by Henrik Zetterberg (38) and Niklas Kronwall (15), 00:35. Red Wings 1, Wild 0

• Detroit -- Brendan Smith (1), assisted by Justin Abdelkader (13) and Danny Cleary (18), 16:04. Red Wings 2, Wild 0

Second period

• Detroit -- Darren Helm (8), assisted by Johan Franzen (26) and Niklas Kronwall (16), 7:05. Red Wings 3, Wild 0

• Detroit -- Valtteri Filppula (21), assisted by Henrik Zetterberg (39) and Niklas Kronwall (17), 16:35. Red Wings 4, Wild 0

•Detroit -- Ian White (7), unassisted, 17:42. Red Wings 5, Wild 0

Third period

• Detroit -- Henrik Zetterberg (15), assisted by Valtteri Filppula (32) and Ian White (23), 5:30. Red Wings 6, Wild 0

Up next

The Wild return to St. Paul Sunday (6 p.m. FSN) for the first game in a back-to-back, home and away set against division rival Colorado (33-28-4).

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell
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