Datsyuk leads Red Wings over Kings
DETROIT — If Pavel Datsyuk can stay healthy this season, it’s going to be interesting to see what he can do.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock always talks about how it takes players a while to get back to their best self when they’ve missed time with an injury.
But with Datsyuk, it’s hard to tell.
In his first game back after missing most of the preseason and the first five games of the regular season with a separated shoulder, Datsyuk had what should have been a top-play type of goal.
Because the referee said that Justin Abdelkader prevented Montreal goaltender Carey Price from making the save — even though Abdelkader wasn’t in the crease — the goal didn’t count.
In Friday night’s 5-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, Datsyuk had two goals that did count, plus an assist.
"He’s been unbelievable since he came back," said Gustav Nyquist, who also had two goals and an assist. "It means so much to us to have him back, and you could see that (Friday night). He must have had 10 steals out there. He’s a really important player for us."
Datsyuk was given credit for three takeaways.
His first came midway through the first period when he stole the puck from Dwight King, then tried to pass the puck to Henrik Zetterberg.
Instead, the puck caromed off the skate of Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin past goaltender Jonathan Quick for a 2-0 Detroit lead.
"It doesn’t take him long," goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "He’s one of the best in the world, so it’s no surprise out there what he’s doing."
Without Datsyuk in the first five games, the Wings scored 11 goals.
With Datsyuk in the last five games, the Wings have 16 goals.
Datsyuk has four goals and four assists in those five games.
"You can see it on the ice, obviously," defenseman Brendan Smith said. "He’s the Magic Man, and he shows it out there every night. Sometimes, I’m in awe a lot of the time, and I play against him every day in practice. He comes up with something new that nobody ever thought of."
Datysuk is 36 now and every player in the league knows what he is capable of, but that doesn’t mean they can stop him.
"It’s a testament," Smith said. You should see him work out in the gym and how hard he works on the ice and how many more hours he puts in than a lot of other players.
"There’s a reason why you say practice makes perfect. You see it in him, and you can see he’s coming back to himself. I never thought he lost it, but you can tell bounces are really going his way more."
You have to take the victory over the Kings with a little bit of a grain of salt. They were playing their third game in four nights and are without Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Slava Voynov.
But the better Datsyuk is, the more successful the Wings will be.
Playing half of October without him and ending up with a 6-2-2 record and 14 points is a good way to begin.
"The schedule we’ve had and what we’ve done where we are in the standings, I think we’ve done a tremendous job," Howard said. "But no let-ups. We’ve got to keep going into Buffalo (Sunday).
"We’ve given away some points during the course of the month, too. I think we’ve still got a lot to learn and a lot to build off of."
The Red Wings are still without Johan Franzen and might have to play without another regular on Sunday in Buffalo.
Defenseman Kyle Quincey suffered a lower-body injury in the first period Friday and didn’t return to the game.
I don’t know. It’s just with his ankle," Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the game. "I don’t know if it’s long-term or just a short-term thing."
General manager Ken Holland said they would wait to see how Quincey feels in practice Saturday.
Defenseman Brian Lashoff was a healthy scratch but might finally get to play this season, depending on how severe Quincey’s ankle injury is.
"Lash has been real good for us over the last two or three years, and we expect the same thing when he gets an opportunity," Babcock said.
Quincey, walked out of the dressing room with a visible limp, played just 3 minutes, 19 seconds in his six first-period shifts.
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