Zetterberg returns for Game 4
DETROIT — Never underestimate Henrik Zetterberg.
Detroit’s captain returned to the lineup in the middle of a playoff series against the imposing Boston Bruins a little more than two months after his Feb. 21 back surgery.
Zetterberg played 29 shifts for 19:34. He had one shot, two missed shots, two hits, one giveaway, one face-off loss (when Pavel Datsyuk was tossed out of the circle) and finished plus-1.
"He’s been out for two months and I still thought he was one of our best players," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "It says a lot about him as a player and as a person."
Red Wings fans cheered Zetterberg when he came on the ice for warm-ups and then again when he came out for the first period.
They even amended their usual "Let’s go, Red Wings" chant in favor of a "Let’s go, Zetterberg" one several times.
The last time Zetterberg played at Joe Louis Arena was Feb. 3.
"He’s our captain, our leader and obviously a really good player so it was exciting," Jonas Gustavsson said. "I pretty much stepped on the ice the same time, I was just behind him so it was kind of fun to go out and hear the crowd like that and he deserves it. The crowd was unreal (Thursday night) and I’m happy to have him back."
Zetterberg made his presence felt early when he sent a long pass from the Wings’ zone to Datsyuk at the Bruins’ blue line. Datsyuk just missed the net.
"I thought he was awesome," Kronwall said. "He gives us an element that of course we don’t have without him. He’s our captain, he’s our leader for a reason. I thought he was great out there."
Luke Glendening agreed with that assessment.
"He looked good," Glendening said. "He’s one of the best players in the world so whatever percent he’s at, he’s always going to be good.
"The crowd really got into it when he came out on the ice, which is huge. He played well for us, had some good chances. He leads so when your captain’s back, that’s huge."
Zetterberg knew his conditioning wouldn’t be at playoff-level after missing so much time.
"I’ve played a lot better before and I just want to get better, too," Zetterberg said. "I felt good in the first and halfway through the second. Then I started having really short shifts but that’s the way it is. I had to have this first game and hopefully the disk gets better and better."
Although the Wings are facing elimination as they head back to Boston for Game 5 Saturday afternoon, Zetterberg isn’t conceding a thing.
"It is steep but we know it’s tough to close out a series," Zetterberg said. "We’ve been in that spot before and just got to go in and win one game and bring it back home here."