Wings aim to sweep home-and-home set against Wild

( - The Detroit Red Wings are trying to scrape and claw their way to a 23rd straight trip to the postseason. Completing a home-and- home sweep Sunday against visiting Minnesota would certainly help further that quest.

The Red Wings recorded a third straight victory Saturday in St. Paul and hope to match a season-best winning streak with two more points in Sunday's rematch against the Wild at Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit, which last missed the postseason in 1990, is tied with Washington for the second wild card spot in the East at 79 points apiece. The Red Wings hold the current tiebreaker with two games in hand over the Capitals, who are idle on Sunday.

Columbus, meanwhile, is only one point behind the Red Wings and plays Sunday against the New York Islanders.

The Red Wings recorded a 3-2 win at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, as Gustav Nyquist notched the game-winner early in the third period. Brendan Smith and David Legwand also tallied, while Jimmy Howard stopped 28 shots for the Red Wings, who last won four in a row from Nov. 24-Dec. 1.

With Detroit battling a long list of injuries, including ones to key forwards, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, the Red Wings are counting on contributions from new sources.

"The young guys are playing and they are starting to believe in themselves more," noted Howard. "It's a fun time of year because they're showing what they have and the future looks bright."

The setback was the second in a row and seventh in nine games for Minnesota. Despite suffering through a 2-3-4 stretch, the Wild still hold a four-point lead over Phoenix for the first of two wild card spots in the Western Conference.

Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle supplied the offense on Saturday for the Wild. Darcy Kuemper took the loss despite making 27 saves.

Minnesota has struggled to kill of penalties recently and allowed the Red Wings to convert on both of their power-play opportunities on Saturday.

"This little stretch here, where we haven't been winning games, I think our penalty kill is at 68 percent," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said. "It's going to be tough. When you're losing one-goal games and your penalty kill is 68 percent, obviously, you have to figure that out."

The Red Wings halted a two-game slide in the series with Minnesota and have now won three of the last five encounters. The Wild have lost three of five and seven of 10 in the Motor City.

Detroit is 15-11-9 as the host this season and the Wild are just 13-16-6 away from St. Paul.