DETROIT – When the Wings score a goal it’s almost certain Henrik Zetterberg and/or Pavel Datsyuk played a big part in it.
Zetterberg netted his fifth career hat trick to go along with two assists, while Datsyuk had a goal and an assist to lead Detroit past the St. Louis Blues, 5-3, at Joe Louis Arena Friday night.
“All in all he was ultra-competitive and I thought Pav was great too,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I hear a lot about the things we don’t have, but I don’t know how many teams have Pav and Z and that’s a pretty good starting point for me.”
Of the Wings’ last 13 goals scored this season, Zetterberg and/or Datsyuk have figured in on the scoring.
“The longer I’m in the game the more I understand that skill is a great thing to have,” Babcock said. “The best players are so competitive it’s not even funny. That was an example tonight. The good players on the good teams are ultra-competitive and that’s why their teams are winning. You can have all the skill in the world you want, if you don’t compete it doesn’t’ do you much good.”
Jonathan Ericsson added the other goal and Jimmy Howard made 23 saves.
“I felt good,” said Zetterberg, who missed practice Thursday because he was ill. “Sometimes it’s nice to have two days off, and especially with a schedule like this. I got a little extra rest, so I can’t complain.”
“Today was Hank’s night,” Datsyuk said. “They gave my Fathead, but now it looks like we need to change to Hank.”
Kevin Shattenkirk, Matt D’Agostini and Patrik Berglund scored for the Blues. Jaroslav Halak made nine saves in less than a period of work and was relieved by Brian Elliott, who stopped 17 shots.
“It was great to see, especially with him being sick yesterday,” said Howard, who’s now tied with Dominik Hasek for seventh in goalie wins with 114 as a Red Wing. “Just goes to show how much of a competitor he really is.”
Zetterberg also matched a career high with five points.
“Oh my god, if I had been out for a day like that I would be struggling to be skating, and he was flying out there,” Ericsson said. “I don’t know how he does it.”
The Blues handed the Wings a 6-0 drubbing on opening night.
“It was nice to see that we could bounce back,” Zetterberg said. “It wasn’t the prettiest sight when we were playing in their building. It was a tough game again. They’re a good team. They were playing really physical. I think our second period wasn’t our best, but we came back in the third and played a solid 20 minutes.”
With the score tied 3-3, Detroit was awarded a five-minute power play when David Backes was given a match penalty for a hit to the head of Kent Huskins. Using a screen from Johan Franzen, who had three assists, Datsyuk broke the tie.
On the replay it didn’t look like Backes even made contact with Huskins’ head.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. “It was a big turning point and it turned out being the turning point of the game.”
Zetterberg added an empty-net goal, fighting off a check from T.J. Oshie, and getting enough of the puck on his stomach to cross the line for a shorthanded goal.
“I’d rather have those than the puck and skate it up, I usually miss those, so I didn’t have the puck that long on my stick there,” Zetterberg smiled.
Zetterberg opened the scoring six minutes for the Wings, taking advantage of a 5-on-3 power play. Niklas Kronwall fed the puck down low to Damien Brunner, who quickly fed it back to the point to Zetterberg and his one timer beat Halak.
The first-period goal was the Wings’ first they’ve scored this season.
Less than two minutes later, Zetterberg cradled an outlet pass from Ericsson and broke in alone on Halak, finishing things off with a backhand between the Blues’ goalie’s legs.
The two-goal lead was short-lived as Shattenkirk scored on the power play and five minutes later D’Agostini took advantage of a poor change of defensemen by the Wings to get a partial breakaway on Howard before wristing a shot past the Wings’ goalie.
Six of the Blues’ nine goals scored this season on the Wings have come on the power play.
Zetterberg had six of the Wings’ 13 shots in the first period.
“It was good (to score in the first period), unfortunately they scored two right back, so it didn’t last that long,” said Zetterberg, who had six of his team-high eight shots in the first period. “But it was definitely nice to get the lead, especially against a team like this it’s tough to be behind.”
With Kyle Quincey in the box for tripping, the Blues took the lead early in the second period when Berglund redirected in a pass down low from Backes.
Detroit evened the game taking advantage of a delayed 4:31 into the third period.
With Howard pulled for the extra attacker, Zetterberg held and worked the puck down low before sending a Datsyuk-like cross-ice pass to Ericsson sneaking in from the point and beat Elliott five hole.