Red Wings extend streak with win over Preds
DETROIT — For his next act, Pavel Datsyuk will play a game blindfolded and score a hat trick with his stick tied behind his back.
Not really, but I would never say that the Red Wings’ star center is incapable of such a thing.
Datsyuk, with a little help from his Euro Twin Henrik Zetterberg and captain Nick Lidstrom, scored with five seconds left in the third period to give the Wings a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators and extend their NHL record home winning streak to 22 games.
Of course, Datsyuk rarely just scores. His goals and assists are often more like works of art.
“They cleared the puck, the puck came out in the neutral zone and it was on my backhand,” Lidstrom said. “I tried to get it over to Hank (Zetterberg) really quick on the boards.
“Once he got it, he found Pav going down, almost down the middle. Pav just made an in-and-out move twice before he got it to his forehand, just picked the top shelf. It was one of those moves that Pav can do at full speed that worked for him.”
Zetterberg, who was originally not supposed to play Friday because of a lower-body injury, got his 600th career point on the goal.
“It’s fun and especially the way it happened,” Zetterberg said. “I gave it to Pav, and he kind of did his thing and scored the game-winner, so you’ll remember that one.”
No doubt Ryan Suter will remember that one, too. Datsyuk tied the Predators’ All-Star defenseman in knots on his way to the net.
But Datsyuk said he had the advantage over Suter in that situation.
“Z make a good play, and everybody was trying to go out of the zone,” Datsyuk said. “He hit me in the perfect spot.
“I’m going forward. I had speed. There was a hesitation. He (Suter) needed to move to me, and I just go around.”
Datsyuk was the last player that Predators coach Barry Trotz wanted to see with the puck.
“Fifteen seconds to go, the most dangerous guy on the ice,” Trotz said. “You knew that puck’s going to him somewhere.
“Just play him straight up. You’ve just got to be aware of where he is and be a little tighter to him. Haul him down, do something.”
But wait, hauling Datsyuk down doesn’t always work either.
For evidence, we turn to the first goal of the game, scored by Johan Franzen at 12:44 of the first period. Although Todd Bertuzzi made a beautiful pass to get it to Franzen right in front of the net, Datsyuk was flat on his stomach when he made the first pass to Bertuzzi.
“I think it was a sniper that shoot me in the leg in the corner,” Datsyuk joked. “I fall. That’s why I pull the puck back with my stick. I just throw it to the middle. Bert got it.”
Trotz didn’t know anything about a sniper, but he does know all about Datsyuk.
“He made two special plays, and they got two goals,” Trotz said. “That’s why he’s one of the great forwards in the league. The biggest disappointment was I thought we managed the game pretty well.”
Aside from Datsyuk, who was reunited with Zetterberg in the third period after a distinct lack of offense in the second, the Wings were not tremendously special despite the win.
The Predators had several breakaways and odd-man rushes during the game, something that had not happened much during the streak.
“I don’t think we played as well as we have been earlier in the streak,” Lidstrom said. “But Joey (MacDonald) came up big for us.
“I thought we did tighten up in the third period.”
MacDonald, who made 20 saves for his fifth straight victory, is set to take a backseat. Jimmy Howard is ready to start Sunday against San Jose. MacDonald hasn’t been told what his status is, but he’s happy with what he and the team accomplished.
“It’s been great,” MacDonald said. “Whoever thought two weeks ago I’d come in and play every period but one.
“Try to take advantage of the opportunity and give these guys a chance to win every night, and I think things have gone pretty well.”
Scary moment for Wings
Lidstrom left the game briefly in the third period after taking Mike Fisher’s shot off an ankle.
“Just had to walk it off,” Lidstrom said. “My foot went numb, so I just had to walk it off a little bit. I could play afterwards, so it wasn’t any big deal.”
Lidstrom said he iced the ankle for 20 minutes after the game, but he wasn’t sure if he would be able to participate in the outdoor practice Saturday.
“We’ll have to wait and see if it swells up,” Lidstrom said.