ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Even when faced with adversity, the Red Wings have emerged successfully. That's the kind of resiliency the Minnesota Wild need to overcome their latest setback.
The surging Red Wings seek a third straight victory on Saturday night as they visit a Wild team that is expected to be without injured star forward Marian Gaborik for an extensive period.
Few obstacles have limited defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit (25-7-5), which currently sits atop the Central Division and ranks among the league's best teams with 55 points.
After opening December 8-2-0, the Red Wings stumbled a bit with consecutive one-goal losses at Nashville and in Colorado last week. But they avoided another defeat, defeating the Central rival Blackhawks 4-0 at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday in the opener of a home-and-home series.
Detroit then overcame a two-goal, first-period deficit for a 6-4 win over Chicago in the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on Thursday.
Jiri Hudler ignited the comeback, scoring twice in the second and providing an assist in the third, while Brian Rafalski, Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg each had three points for the Red Wings, who won for the second time in seven road games (2-3-2).
"No panic, we sat down and talked about our game plan, and it worked," Hudler told the Red Wings' official Web site.
Aside from opening an eight-point division lead on second-place Chicago, Detroit also moved within six points of Western Conference-leading San Jose.
Thursday's win also marked the return of captain and six-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who had missed two games with sore ankle.
The status for one of Minnesota's top players, meanwhile, wasn't as positive Friday. It was announced that Gaborik would have surgery Monday on his injured left hip that could sideline him for 10 weeks. He's already missed 29 of the Wild's 36 games.
Minnesota (18-16-2) said Gaborik's injury is a "deficiency" in his hip that has caused chronic left groin pain, which hampered him earlier this season.
"I'm disappointed that he won't be here with us for this point in the season," general manager Doug Risebrough said. "But, you know, this is the choice that Marian has made."
Risebrough didn't comment on the right wing's future with the team. The last original member of the Wild, Gaborik is in the final year of his contract and has previously turned down offers for an extension.
Losing Gaborik is another blow to Minnesota, which is 7-12-1 since Nov. 20 after starting the season 11-4-1.
The Wild dropped into last place in the Northwest after losing 10 of 14 games (4-9-1) in December, but capped the month with a 3-2 victory over visiting San Jose on Wednesday as Brent Burns scored 1:38 into overtime.
"I think we were in a frustrating situation for a while now and we realize we have to get the boat turned around and we went for it," said Owen Nolan, who also scored after missing the previous 10 games with an injured right leg.
Despite its struggles, Minnesota's defense is tied with East-leading Boston, allowing a league-low 84 goals. That unit matches up against the West's best offense as Detroit is averaging 3.62 goals per game this season.
Pavel Datsyuk, who leads the Red Wings with 26 assists and 42 points, has eight goals and nine assists during a season-high nine-game point streak.
Detroit is 8-0-2 in 10 meetings with Minnesota since a 4-2 home loss on Jan. 3, 2006. The Red Wings are 6-0-1 at Xcel Energy Center since the teams played to a 1-1 tie on Nov. 15, 2003.
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