Zetterberg scored twice Saturday night to lead the Datsyuk-less Red Wings to a 5-1 victory against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center in their first game since a shootout loss in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day.
"We needed a game like this," forward Drew Miller said. "We've had a lot of close games that we've lost or just not finding a way to get it done. Tonight was one we kept going and kept going. We played 60 minutes and got contributions from a lot of different guys, so it was big for us."
Datsyuk took part in the morning skate but was a late scratch. The Red Wings didn't need him thanks to Zetterberg, who opened the scoring 7:04 into the game and capped it at 12:39 of the third period.
Joakim Andersson , Miller and Tomas Tatar also scored for Detroit, which led 3-1 after one period and 4-1 after two. Jimmy Howard made 44 saves, allowing only a shorthanded goal to Shawn Horcoff in the first period.
"He made some real good saves," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of Howard. "There were a couple that I thought we could have had better traffic in front of him. We missed the net on some."
Dallas took the game's first 12 shots on goal, but the Red Wings took the lead when Zetterberg whistled a wrister past goaltenderDan Ellis from the left circle at 7:04 on Detroit's first shot. Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey skated into the Dallas zone up the right side of the ice but was unable to get off a shot. Dallas' Tyler Seguin attempted to clear the puck but sent it right to Zetterberg, who beat Ellis for his 13th of the season.
Dallas answered at 12:47 when Horcoff scored a shorthanded goal by deflecting a wrister by Rich Peverley from the left circle. With Antoine Roussel off for goaltender interference, Horcoff scored his sixth of the season.
Justin Abdelkader missed a chance to put Detroit ahead at 14:02 when he was unable to score on a penalty shot. But Detroit was able to retake the lead at 18:05 when Andersson fired a wrister from the right circle past Ellis. Miller gave Detroit a two-goal lead 14 seconds later when he tapped in the rebound of Abdelkader's shot for his fifth of the season.
Dallas made a change in goal to begin the second as Kari Lehtonen replaced Ellis, who stopped 10 of 13 shots.
The Stars were also down to five defensemen after Aaron Rome sustained an upper-body injury and did not return for the second period. At the start of the third, Rome was ruled out for the rest of the game.
"It's an upper-body injury," Ruff said of Rome. "He'll probably be out this week."
With Rome out for the final two periods, Alex Goligoski logged 30:22 of ice time for Dallas on 29 shifts.
"I think our defense kind of hit a wall, especially the pair we've really put pressure on, Alex [Goligoski] and Brenden [Dillon]," Ruff said.
Peverley's bid to make it 3-2 was waved off after a review at 9:35 of the second after officials determined there was a whistle after Howard stopped his backhander from the left circle.
"They said they blew the whistle," Ruff said of the call. "They were a little quick on the whistle in the first period too, but we've got to get by that."
Detroit padded its lead at 11:57 when Tatar capped a dash up the middle of the ice with a backhand that ate up Lehtonen. After gaining possession near the Detroit blue line, Tatar rushed up the middle, sidestepping Brenden Dillon in the slot before his backhand glanced off Lehtonen's right shoulder and into the net for his eighth goal of the season.
"I thought [Tatar] and Nyquist were real good players for us tonight. Zetterberg and Kronwall provided excellent leadership, so it was a good night for our team," Babcock said.
Zetterberg's second of the night came when he blistered a one-timer from the left circle off the far post for his 14th of the season.
Stars captain Jamie Benn felt a number of costly turnovers were crucial in his club falling to 2-2-1 after losing the finale of a five-game homestand.
"You can't do that against a team like that," Benn said. "They have good forwards that track back. We're just not taking care of our end."
The Red Wings also stifled the Dallas power play, killing off all four advantages.
"Penalty kill was good. I thought our power play had a lot of good chances tonight too," Miller said. "Our specialty teams have got to be strong every night on those. For myself and for the guys on the PK, we take pride in that, so we want to get it done."
Detroit continues its road swing Thursday against the San Jose Sharks; Dallas begins a three-game road trip Monday against the New York Islanders.
"It's important because it got us off on the right foot here on this road trip," Howard said. "It wasn't pretty by any means but we found a way. We capitalized on our chances here tonight and our captain as good tonight too."