DETROIT (AP)—The Detroit Red Wings have nearly secured first place in the Western Conference. Now their sights are set on the postseason.
Detroit, with 105 points, reduced its magic number to one point over San Jose to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs with three games remaining. The Red Wings have won three straight to take over first place in the overall NHL standings.
“Our objective is to get ready for the playoffs,” Detroit forward Steve Thomas said. “We wanted to continue what we were doing against Colorado.”
The Red Wings beat the Avalanche in their two previous games.
“We’re trying to peak as we’re going into the playoffs,” Whitney said.
McCarty opened the scoring at 4:26 when he put in a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. Minnesota tied it on a power-play goal with 9:57 remaining when Zyuzin slammed in a one-timed shot from in front.
Fischer restored the Red Wings’ lead with 5:28 left in the period, and Detroit extended its advantage to 4-1 by scoring twice early in the second period.
Shanahan made it 3-1 with a shot from the right circle that slipped through Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez’s glove 37 seconds into the period. Devereaux made it a three-goal lead when he scored off a rebound at 2:25.
“I don’t think Manny was strong at all,” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. “He didn’t look comfortable.”
Daigle got his goal off a faceoff from the top of the left circle at 5:57, and his second goal came with 8:32 left in the game.
“I think we kind of let up in the second period,” Thomas said. “It’s got to be our objective to play three strong periods.”
Datsyuk scored his team-leading 30th goal and fifth in five games with 6:25 remaining.
The Red Wings got a scare late in the second period when Whitney accidentally fell on Detroit goaltender Manny Legace’s knee. Curtis Joseph is out with an ailing ankle and Legace will likely start the playoffs.
Legace, who made 21 saves, wasn’t injured.
“Luckily, my knee released,” he said. “Kind of an awkward position.”
Whitney hit Legace in the shoulder with a shot during warmups before Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Avalanche.
“He and I are having some problems right now,” Whitney joked.
Injured Detroit centers Kris Draper (shoulder) and Robert Lang (ribs) are expected to return for Wednesday’s game at Columbus. Draper has missed 14 games, while Lang has been sidelined for 11. … Minnesota was without D Filip Kuba because of a broken finger. … Steve Thomas is the Red Wings’ nominee for the Masterton Trophy, which goes to the NHL player who most exemplifiesdedication and perseverance in hockey.