DETROIT – Henrik Zetterberg didn’t make his mind on the move he was doing when his name got called in the shootout Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
He finally made it when he crossed the blue line and it turned out to be the right one.
Zetterberg, who was the fourth shooter, entered Phoenix’s zone with speed, slowed up as he got Coyotes goalie Mike Smith to start cheating to his right. He then dragged the puck to his backhand and slid it ever-so slowly into the open net with one hand as he skated past Smith.
Jimmy Howard made a save on Lauri Korpikoski’s next attempt to give the Wings the win, which extended their home winning streak to 13 games after a 3-2 shootout win over Phoenix.
“If I missed that I kind of look kind of stupid,” said Zetterberg of the move made famous by fellow countryman Peter Forsberg. “It was a gamble, but it worked. I had a few options in my head, when I crossed the blue line I kind of made my decision and went with it.”
The Wings last won 13 straight during the 2006-07 season. A win Saturday against Chicago would match the franchise’s longest winning streak set in the 1964-65 season.
“We have a lot of penalty shooters in the team, so I’m not disappointed I’m not there,” Zetterberg said. “It was fun when I got a chance. I don’t see those opportunities that much. I wanted to do something special.”
Three other milestones were reached in the game – Mike Babcock earned his 400th coaching win; Jimmy Howard got his 100th win as a Wing and Danny Cleary picked up his 200th assist.
“It’s no different than Howie for wins or Cleary with assists,” Babcock said when asked about his accomplishment. “They’re marks you think about later in life and you look at and can be proud of. It’s hard to even coach long enough in this league to get 400 wins and to be in that company of those with you.”
Babcock got win 400 in his 699th game, making him the third quickest coach to reach that mark. Scotty Bowman was the fastest coach to reach 400 wins doing so in 690 games. Toe Blake was third reaching 400 in 724 games.
Howard, who made 25 saves, reached 100 wins in his 171st game with Detroit.
“A goalie’s only as good as the team in front of him,” said Howard, who was named to the All-Star game earlier. “I’m very lucky to be able to play behind these guys. I think that’s why I’ve been able to progress at my own rate.
“Coming into this season, I felt like I could take more on in my play, and be more of a game changer,” Howard added. “It doesn’t get any better than that. What a great day. It’s been awesome. I think the highlight of the day was when I woke up from my nap, and my little guy had on a T-shirt that said, ‘My daddy rocks.'”
Pavel Datsyuk also scored in the shootout for Detroit. Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen scored in regulation.
Radim Vrbata scored the Coyotes’ only goal in the shootout. Vrbata and Taylor Pyatt each scored in regulation, while Smith made 40 saves.
“In a shootout it’s a lot of fun out there,” Howard said. “Z’s goal was spectacular. Mike played really well at the other end, gave them a good shot to win.”
The Wings, who have been nearly unbeatable at home, put an end to Phoenix Coyotes’ goalie Mike Smith before the end of the first period.
Detroit’s last home loss came on Nov. 3, a 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames.
With the score tied 1-1 heading into the third period, the Coyotes went ahead just 3:02 in on a bit of a fluky goal.
Kyle Chipchura backhanded a pass in front of the Wings’ goal that deflected off the skate of Jakub Kindl. The puck then laid still to the left of Howard’s pad. An alert Pyatt chipped at the puck and got enough of it to float it ever-so slowly past Howard.
The Wings tied it seven minutes later.
After getting a pass from Cleary from behind the net, Datsyuk saucered a pass between a pair of Coyotes defenseman and Franzen redirected it by Smith on the short hop.
Vrbata opened the scoring just before the midway point of the first period. After Zetterberg waved his stick at Vrbata as he got new the Wings’ blue line, the Coyotes forward snapped a wrist shot over Howard’s right shoulder.
Filppula got the equalizer with 50.1 seconds left in the first period. Ian White pinched to keep the puck in Coyotes’ zone and deflect it off a to Filppula in the slot. Filppula rifled a shot that hit the blade of Derek Morris’ stick and clanked just under the crossbar over Smith’s left shoulder.
The Wings ran Smith out of goal late in the first period in the last meeting at Joe Louis Arena after he allowed four goals on 11 shots.
Over the last four games, Detroit has been outscored 7-2 in the first period.
Early in the second period, Cory Emmerton had a golden opportunity to give the Wings the lead. After a making a nifty move to chip the puck between David Rundbald’s legs, Emmerton rang a shot off the post to the left of Smith as he was falling to the ice.
In the final half of the second period, Smith robbed Niklas Kronwall and Danny Cleary on redirects just outside the crease to keep the game tied in the second period.
Jiri Hudler fed a pass to Kronwall that Smith got a right pad on. Then Filppula found Cleary alone in front of Smith the Wings on the power play, but his deflection went right into Smith’s midsection.