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Miettinen sparks Wild early in 5-2 win over Wings

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Antti Miettinen got Minnesota going with a pair of first-period goals, and Detroit's defense fell apart down the stretch in the Wild's 5-2 victory over the Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Josh Harding made the early scores hold up with 26 saves for Minnesota, which improved to 6-0-1 in its last seven home games. Detroit's 4-3 shootout victory last week is the only blemish.

Miettinen, who has 15 goals this season, had his third two-goal game in his last seven games.

Pavel Datsyuk had two goals in the first period himself for the Red Wings, who have found themselves in a real fight for a playoff spot for the first time in years.

They began the day in eighth place in the Western Conference, with the Wild now three points behind them.

The Wild were up 3-2 less than 18 minutes into the game and still had that lead early in the third period when the Red Wings started a power play.

Dan Cleary's high-stick penalty ended the advantage after 44 seconds, and Eric Belanger deked Todd Bertuzzi on his way to feed Guillaume Latendresse for the 4-on-4 goal.

Then with 13 seconds remaining on the Wild power play, Martin Havlat sneaked a bad-angle shot past goalie Chris Osgood to give the home team a three-score lead. Osgood is 1-6 in seven starts since Nov. 7, losing three straight while giving up 11 goals. Osgood made only 20 saves in this game.

Jimmy Howard was in goal for Detroit the night before in Phoenix, when the Coyotes scored twice in the final 2 minutes to tie it and then won in a shootout.

The Red Wings, beset by injuries this season and looking to their younger players for production more than usual as they try to stay in the Western Conference playoff chase, have had trouble finding a finishing touch.

This time, the lapse came early and late. The Wild managed only six on-target shots in the first period, but three of them went in.

Andrew Brunette set up Miettinen on the first two, feeding his linemate from the goal line for a power-play snap shot and then muscling the puck out from behind the net as he does best to set Miettinen up for a bad-angle try that slid past Osgood.

Datsyuk answered for Detroit both times, in less than 2 minutes following the first goal and in 27 seconds after the next one. Just after the public address announcer finished declaring the details, the lull in the crowd noise was enough that the puck-on-pipe clink of Datsyuk's deflection was audible throughout the arena.

Captain Niklas Lidstrom, who has 17 points in his last 16 games and 25 assists this season from the blue line, took the shot that preceded both of Datsyuk's counterpunches. The first goal came when he knocked in a clean rebound between the circle and the crease.

The Wild regained their edge just 36 seconds after when defenseman Greg Zanon grabbed a loose puck and let a slap shot fly from the blue line that Andrew Ebbett was able to redirect through traffic for the goal.

Both of Minnesota's goalies have been bothered by minor injuries, and Harding (hip) got the game-time assignment ahead of slumping All-Star Niklas Backstrom (back), who has given up at least three goals in eight of his last 11 starts. Harding was actually hurt in the first period of last week's game against the Red Wings.

NOTES: The Wild are 22-7-3 this season when scoring three or more goals. ... The Red Wings are 1-3-3 in their last seven games.