DETROIT -- It took the Red Wings just 35 seconds to show that Friday wasn't going to be Minnesota's night.
That was how long it took Valteri Filppula to give the Wings a 1-0 lead, and Detroit went on to thrash the exhausted Wild 6-0. Minnesota was playing for the third time in four nights - all in different cities. The Wings led 2-0 after one, 5-0 after two and cruised to the win.
Filppula got his first-minute goal with a backhand off Josh Harding's rebound. It was Filppulas 20th goal of the season, the first time in his career that hes reached that mark.
When you get to play a lot the expectations get higher, said Filppula. It feels pretty good. The last record was nineteen, so its nice to get that over with.
I dont think about points that much. When youre playing well, I always believe that the points will come when youre doing good things. Definitely its always nice to get goals and 20 is a good number for me.
Rookie defenseman Brendan Smith gave Detroit a 2-0 lead at 16:04 of the first with his first career goal. Smith pinched in from the blueline during a goalmouth scramble and flipped the loose puck over a sprawling Harding.
Smith was playing his first game at JLA, and had his parents, grandfather and a couple of family friends in the crowd.
Theres no words to describe the first goal, but on top of that to win my first game at the Joe is pretty cool, said Smith, who was named the game's third star. All the boys were really happy for me and I know my parents and grandfather in the stands were pretty excited.
Smith has been steady in the two games hes played since being called up from Grand Rapids. The young blueliner credits Detroit coach Mike Babcock for his sound play.
Coach Babs is always telling me, Smitty, simple, simple, simple. Hes reiterated that in to my head and so did my dad, Smith said. I have to keep playing within myself because if I dont, Ill get into trouble with all these great players.
Detroits onslaught continued in the second as the Wings got goals from Darren Helm, Filppula's second of the night and an unassisted tally from defenseman Ian White, his seventh goal of the season.
For long stretches of this game the Wings controlled the puck as if they were running a puck-possession drill.
We had good energy, we skated well, the 'D' moved the puck, the forwards got in it and obviously (Henrik) Zetterbergs line dominated, Babcock said. It was a good win for our team; we have teams coming up here that are real stiff competition.
Once the third period began, the only questions were how lopsided the final score would be and whether Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard would record his sixth shutout of the season and the eleventh of his career.
After Zetterberg scored his 15th goal of the season at the 5:30 mark of the third period to give the Wings their 6-goal margin of victory, the Wild pulled Harding. Former Windsor Spitfire and Plymouth Whaler Matt Hackett finished the game for Minnesota between the pipes.
Zetterberg scored his sixth goal in his last 11 games. When asked why his goal scoring has picked up, Zetterberg deadpanned, the puck is going in.
Howard ended up making 19 saves for one of the easier shutouts of his career.
Detroits win snapped a brief two-game home losing streak that came after the Wings' NHL-record streak of 23 home victories.
The win came with one negative, as Todd Bertuzzi suffered a groin strain in the second period and did not return to the game. General manager Ken Holland said that Bertuzzi was questionable for Sunday afternoon's home game against Chicago.
Detroit now has 43 victories on the season and 89 points, which is tops in the Central Division.