DETROIT -- Henrik Zetterberg had missed the previous five games with back spasms, an injury that kept him out for the final 19 games last season.
But there was no easing back into the lineup for the Red Wings’ top scorer against Dallas on Wednesday night. Zetterberg assisted on half of Detroit’s goals in a 4-1 win over the Stars at Joe Louis Arena.
"He had some jump in him and I talked to him after and he said he felt good so that’s positive," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "He’s a really good player and obviously when he’s out there he’s a real threat defensively, offensively in any situation."
With its 30th win, Detroit set its best first-half record ever. Beating its Western Conference foe even prompted the raucous sold-out crowd to get the wave going and the subsequent playing of the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA” in the third period.
Missing both Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom (knee injury) the past five games, the Wings had relied on secondary scoring for four wins. And while Zetterberg picked up the two points, it was goals from Dan Cleary, Johan Franzen and Dallas Drake that did the damage.
Cleary got Detroit on the board at 12:01 of the first with a dogged individual effort off a Dallas bobble. Stars’ defenseman Stephane Robidas fumbled the puck at the Dallas blue line, where Cleary picked it up only to hit Robidas in the skates with his shot. Cleary retrieved the puck again and snapped it past Marty Turco for his 13th goal of the season.
Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, back left, congratulate Dallas Drake on his goal against the Dallas Stars during the third period of Wednesday's game in Detroit. The Red Wings won 4-1. (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza)
Franzen upped the lead to two off a home-run pass from Aaron Downey, who picked up his first point of the season. Franzen, who slipped behind the Dallas defense, deked Turco left, right and on to his back before sneaking the puck behind the Stars’ netminder at 7:28 of the second period. It was Franzen’s ninth point of the season.
"It’s nice for one night to talk about guys like Downs and Dallas Drake — guys in the trenches, kind of like the linemen in football," Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood said.
Drake, known more for bruises than goals, netted his first of the season at 4:32 of the third period. Parked to the right of the Dallas crease, Drake collected Zetterberg’s feed and put a one-timer through Turco’s five hole.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Drake said. “I think the last time I scored there was an eclipse. It feels good.”
Drake also tangled with Steve Ott midway through the third period, earning a fighting major, which meant he was just an assist away from a Gordie Howe hat trick.
“The last thing I was worried about was that – trust me,” Drake said. "I was just trying to get out of the game without getting in another one of those fights.”
Pavel Datsyuk’s mid-air deflection of Nicklas Lidstrom’s point shot rounded out Detroit’s scoring at 13:13 of the third period. Loui Eriksson spoiled Osgood’s shutout bid less than minute later, but didn't stop "Ozzie-Ozzie" chants from the crowd at the end of the game.
Detroit's next game is also against the Stars on Saturday in Dallas.
"It was a good win for us, a good test for us at this point," Osgood said.
GAME NOTES: Prior to the game, the Red Wings honored Stars’ forward and Livonia-native Mike Modano for becoming the all-time American scoring leader with two goals on November 7 against San Jose … The second put him ahead of Phil Housley for his 1,233rd point … The organization presented Modano with a replica jersey from his 1985 state
championship-winning Little Caesars team.
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