DETROIT – For someone who was ill and sat out practice a day earlier, Henrik Zetterberg didn’t exhibit signs of a high fever and sore throat.
“If I had been out for a day like that I would be struggling to skate,” said defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who had a goal and an assist Friday. “And he was flying out there. I don’t know how he does it.”
Zetterberg’s five-point night helped lift the Red Wings to a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Blues before a sell out crowd at Joe Louis Arena. The win was vital for the Wings, whom many hockey analysts had written off for dead after the Blues blistered Detroit, 6-0, in the season-opener two weeks ago in St. Louis.
Zetterberg matched his career high in points, tying the total he had in a 7-4 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 14, 2009, which is the last time he scored a hat trick.
“We weren’t happy about our effort in their building and we had a chance to kind of bounce back today,” Zetterberg said. “It’s nice to see we played the way we did, especially when they got ahead and we found a way to get back and get the win.”
The Red Wings took a 2-0 lead in the first period on Zetterberg’s first two goals of the game. It was just the third time in his career that he scored twice in the first period. The last time came during a 4-3 loss at Los Angeles on Feb. 6, 2010. The first time occurred in a 7-3 win at Chicago on April 13, 2006.
Zetterberg’s first goal came during a 5-on-3 power play after Blues captain David Backes received a minor penalty for roughing Johan Franzen.
The Wings first power-play unit methodical worked the puck around the perimeter before Damien Brunner found Zetterberg with a cross-ice pass from down low. Niklas Kronwall drew the goal’s second assist, but the pass was only made possible because of the play made by Franzen. The Wings’ net-front man bullied Alex Pietranglo, knocking the Blues’ defenseman to the ice, which created a clear passing lane for Brunner. And Zetterberg did the rest, firing a shot into the top of the net.
Less than two minutes later, Detroit built a 2-0 lead when Zetterberg skated in alone on the Blues’ goaltender. It was a rare breakaway for the Wings’ captain, but he made sure made a pretty play to finish, sliding a back-hand shot underneath Halak at 8:07.
“I just tried to skate as fast as I could and then you do what you think is best and it went in five hole,” Zetterberg said.
The second goal was set-up by Ericsson, who spotted Zetterberg circling alone in the neutral zone. Ericsson, who was behind the Wings’ net, fired a perfect pass, hitting Zetterberg in stride, and victimizing Pietranglo, who couldn’t catch up to the Wings’ captain.
While Ericsson’s pass set Zetterberg off to the race, the Wings’ defenseman gave credit to Franzen for starting the play.
“First of all, Mule did a really good job as the forward coming down low there and bumping it over to me and giving me a lot of time,” Ericsson said. “So I had pretty much all day to take a cup of coffee in-between and make the play. I had so much time there. It was a great play by Mule.”
The even-strength tally by Zetterberg was the first 5-on-5 goal scored against the Blues’ top forward line of Backes, David Perron and T.J. Oshie this season.
The Blues stormed back to take a 3-2 lead in the second period, but Detroit scored three unanswered goals, including Zetterberg’s empty-netter with 13-seconds left. The captain muscled the puck away from Oshie and swiped the puck into the open net.
“I watched the replay too, and it looked really funny,” Ericsson said. “He really wanted that and he showed some strength there. He’s not that little guy anymore. He was really strong and battling that puck in.”
Asked how he felt afterwards, Zetterberg said, “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.”
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