Red Wings fall to Wild in rare home game at Joe Louis Arena

Johan Franzen tries to score on Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom. (Jen Hefner/MiHockey)

By Michael Caples –

DETROIT - This wasn’t the homecoming the Red Wings were hoping for.

Detroit, playing in their first home game since March 10, welcomed the Minnesota Wild to Joe Louis Arena Wednesday evening, only to watch the visitors record a convincing 4-2 win.

The Wings won’t get another shot at recording a home win for a while, either; the club embarks on another West Coast road trip and won’t play at The Joe again until March 31.

“We knew what kind of game it was going to be before we started,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We knew they were going to play tight and we knew we had to get through it and get on top of them and it was going to be hard to get to the net, and in the end our specialty teams got two, and we didn’t. I guess we got the one at the end, but we didn’t do much with it early, and we weren’t good enough. Any way you want to look at it, we weren’t good enough.”

Gustav Nyquist scored the Red Wings’ lone goal for the majority of the contest after being called up from Grand Rapids this morning; Drew Miller added a power-play marker with just a few seconds remaining in regulation.

With the Red Wings trailing 2-0 in the middle of the second period, Nyquist poked the puck past a Minnesota defender for a clean breakaway. A deke to the backhand allowed Nyquist to slip the puck through goaltender Niklas Backstrom’s legs for his first goal of the season.

Red Wings defenseman Brian Lashoff with a scoring chance that would eventually result in a power play for the Red Wings. (Jen Hefner/MiHockey)

“It was kind of a broken play on the blue line, got it behind the d-man and kind of skated around him and I was in all alone,” Nyquist said of his goal. “I tried to make a move, and fortunately it went in.

“It’s a tough loss, that’s what matters. You want to win. But of course, it’s nice to get a goal. I haven’t had too many in this league so far, so it’s always nice to get my confidence up a little bit.”

The talk of the Red Wings’ locker room, however, was the goal that didn’t count. In the first period, a goal by Jordin Tootoo was disallowed by the referees, after it appeared that Drew Miller’s stick hit the puck well above the legal height. However, replay looked as though the puck hit Dany Heatley’s glove, yet there was no video review from the officials for the disallowed goal.

“I haven’t seen the replay yet, but the guys said it hit his glove,” Miller said. “I don’t know, I was going through with two guys on each side of me so I wasn’t sure if it was one of them who hit my stick or hit my body, so I wasn’t sure if I hit it or not. With the replay they said it hit Heatley’s goal and went down and Tootoo put it in. So I don’t know, that’s the way it stood, and it’s a tough one.”

Babcock said that he didn’t have an issue with the call, however.

“Well they said that Milsy high-sticked it, even if it Milsy high-sticked it and it hits Heatley’s glove, it’s still no goal,” Babcock said. “I have no issue with that. I just wanted to know what they thought. To me, that had nothing to do with the outcome of tonight’s game. We take full credit for what happened here tonight. Bottom line, we have to be better than we were, defensively we’ve been excellent. Tonight we weren’t.”

Devin Setoguchi scored twice for the Wild, with Kyle Brodziak and Mikko Koivu adding the other goals in the Minnesota victory.

The Red Wings’ record falls to 14-11-5. Entering the contest they were in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference, and will remain there as they have a three-point lead on No. 8 San Jose.