Datsyuk's return sparks Wings' Game 5 win
Powered by a two-point night by Pavel Datsyuk, who played his first game since May 19, the Red Wings exploded against the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning 5-0 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Eliciting chants of “Dat-syuk, Dat-syuk” from a raucous, sold-out Joe Louis Arena crowd on his first shift, the Wings’ regular-season leading scorer played wing on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary.
“He played a good game. He's an important player for their team,” Penguins forward Maxime Talbot said. “But he doesn't make them that much better. They've got a lot of dangerous players."
Doesn’t make the Red Wings that much better?
While he didn’t center a line, the Hart Trophy finalist did almost everything else. Reinvigorate a power play that had scored just once through four games. He silenced Pittsburgh’s top line, and led a team that looked tired and beaten after Game 4 to a dominant victory — just one away from its second straight Stanley Cup championship.
Datsyuk played nearly 18 minutes after missing seven games with a foot injury.
He made his mark early. On the rush, he crafted a perfect pass to Cleary for a 1-0 lead in the first period.
“Seven games is enough,” Cleary said. “It was great to have him back, not only on the ice, but his demeanor, his leadership off the ice. And I could see it in the guys’ eyes when we knew he was playing. It was a huge lift.”
Datsyuk didn’t have an easy ride from the Penguins, either — Sergei Gonchar chopped his stick right out of his hands, leading to a power play just under six minutes into the second period.
Then the kids really started to throw tantrums. A shift after Sidney Crosby whacked Zetterberg as he skated by, Talbot chopped a two-hander toward Datysuk’s foot, earning the Wings a 5-on-3.
“They can suggest it all they want,” Talbot said. “I went for the puck and his foot was there.”
Not showing any ill-effects from the slash, Datsyuk won the ensuing draw to the left of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, eventually working the puck back to Brian Rafalski, who whipped a shot into the top corner.
That put the Wings up 4-0 less than halfway through the game.
“This guy’s one of the best players in the world both offensively and defensively,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Just makes the team more comfortable. We need plays, and suddenly we relaxed and we made plays.
“We’ve been able to have success, but it’s been much harder, obviously, without him.”
Zetterberg notched the fifth goal later in the period that sent Fleury to an early shower. Detroit went 3-for-9 on the power play after going 1-for-10 through the first four games of the series.
Osgood stopped 22 shots for the shutout, his second of the postseason. He also had assist – his second point of the 2009 playoffs and fifth of his postseason career.