Todd Bertuzzi has played in 999 career games. His recent ones have likely been some of his more enjoyable.
In his 1,000th game, the veteran winger will try to continue his sudden offensive resurgence and lead the Red Wings to a season-high fifth straight win Sunday against the host Minnesota Wild.
Bertuzzi had eight goals in his first 54 games this season but has posted three two-goal games during Detroit’s win streak. He scored his second goal Friday night with 7:32 remaining and gave the Central Division leaders a 4-3 victory at Florida, their third in a row on the road.
“I’m still capable of scoring,” said Bertuzzi, who has 287 career goals and 417 assists. “A lot of it has to do with who I’m playing with. We’ve got pretty good chemistry.”
The Red Wings (36-16-6) have outscored opponents 20-8 during their win streak after being outscored 12-4 over their previous four games.
Bertuzzi’s linemate, Henrik Zetterberg, has eight assists and one goal during a five-game point streak. Pavel Datsyuk also has five goals and four assists since returning from a broken right wrist Feb. 7.
“Everyone’s a little bit calmer,” Bertuzzi said. “Everyone’s going out there and doing it. Be happy and enjoying playing out there. I think we’re really concentrating on playing really solid defense and when we do that we end up scoring a lot, too.”
While Bertuzzi has a five-game point drought against Minnesota, seven different Red Wings have scored goals as the teams have split two games versus the Wild this season.
Detroit, however, couldn’t hold on to a late one-goal lead at home Nov. 19, losing 4-3 on John Madden’s overtime goal. The Red Wings posted a 44-27 shot advantage in that game and a 27-17 edge in a 4-1 victory Dec. 26, their 15th in 20 games against the Wild (31-22-5).
Minnesota, fighting for a playoff spot, enters this game after rediscovering its scoring touch and avoiding a third straight loss with a 5-1 victory over visiting Anaheim on Friday.
Kyle Brodziak had a goal and two assists for the Wild, who had scored one goal in each of their previous two games.
Minnesota, winners in five of six at home, got defenseman Marek Zidlicky back after a 21-game absence due to a separated shoulder, but Mikko Koivu left after the first period with a hand injury.
“It’s part of the game, injuries, and you have to try to live with it and survive,” goaltender Niklas Backstrom said. “Everyone stepped up. It’s not just one player that can fill his spot. Everyone on the ice has to be better.”
The Wild recalled center Cody Almond from their AHL affiliate in Houston on Saturday, a sign that Koivu might not be available for this game.
“(Koivu is) a huge player on our team and it’s a big void when he’s not in there,” Brodziak said.
If the Wild don’t have their captain, they might lean on Backstrom, who has a 1.33 goals-against average in six starts this month. He’s 1-4-2 with a 3.57 GAA in nine career appearances against the Red Wings.
Detroit has split its past four games in Minnesota after going 7-0-1 there.
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