Zetterberg celebrates his game-tying goal at 6:43 of the third period. He scored two more times to left the Wings to a 3-1 win Wednesday.
DETROIT -- Henrik Zetterberg's natural hat trick was the difference in the Red Wings' 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. All three goals came in the third period, and on a night when every fan in attendance at Joe Louis Arena received a 3x5-foot Zetterberg flag, he netted his third career hat trick, and tied his season-best for goals at 39.
The Red Wings (48-20-6) improve to 3-2-1 in their season series against the Jackets, who are struggling to make their first playoff appearance in franchise history.
Playing for a second straight night, Columbus (33-30-11) is now 3-4-2 on the back-end of back-to-back games this season.
Zetterberg (first goal) put the Wings on the scoresheet when he took a pass from Brian Rafalski, sped through the neutral zone, split a pair of Columbus defenders, and released a backhand shot by goalie Fredrik Norrena, tying the score at 6:43 of the final period.
The goal sparked another scoring chance for Detroit when Pavel Datsyuk's wrap-around pass to Mikael Samuelsson led to a shot that was blocked low by Norrena.
"Hank came up real big for us," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "A great individual effort on that first goal to get us back in the game and finally the power play had a goal too. We had some chances, but he finally capitalized on one."
Zetterberg's scoring flurry was much needed for the Swede All-Star, who last scored a goal Feb. 29 vs. San Jose.
"He hadn't been scoring at the same rate as he normally does here lately," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "So it was good to see him get that one for us, and then get a couple more to solidify the win."
Zetterberg's (second goal) next goal came on a Wings' fifth and final power play. He took a pass from Datsyuk, giving the Wings a 2-1 lead with 1:54 left.
Zetterberg, who now has 83-points on the season, finished the scoring (third goal) when he intercepted a Columbus pass and cruised into the offensive zone where deked Norrena and banked a shot into an open net.
"I picked it up and I think the goalie didn't think I had control of the puck," said Zetterberg who's last hat trick came against Minnesota on Dec. 7. "He just came out so I just took a step to the side and put it in from there."
Norrena was spectacular when he needed to be, keeping the Blue Jackets in the game. One such instance occurred in the first period when he stopped Tomas Kopecky, who had a goal in Sunday's 4-3 loss at Columbus. The Wings forward came strong, splitting the Columbus defense before releasing a quick shot on Norrena.
On the Jackets' third power play of the game, Dick Tarnstrom ripped one at Chris Osgood(Ozzie save), who gloved it aside and neutralized the threat, keeping Columbus off the board. It was a great effort for Osgood who stopped all eight shots he faced in a period where the Wings were out shot, 8-3. He made 22 saves on the night for 26th win of the season.
"It doesn't happen that often, but I think we saved a lot for the third," Zetterberg said. "We didn't have that much offense in the first two, it was tough, we had a lot of penalties and it was tough to get any momentum going for us."
In Columbus' fourth power play, Manny Malhotra (Jackets goal) was able to pick-up a rebound and put it past Osgood to give the Jackets a 1-0 edge. The goal was Malhotra's fifth in three games, including two on Sunday.
Jiri Hudler's attempt to tie the score in the first on the man-advantage bounced off Norrena's back and slid across the goal line before Ole-Kristian Tollefsen threw it out of the crease to avoid the pile up in front of the net.
The win kept Detroit undefeated on Wednesday this season, moving to 12-0-0. It also ended Johan Franzen's seven game point streak. It also moved Detroit seven points ahead of San Jose for the top-seed in the Western Conference playoff race.
GAME NOTES: Red Wings center Valtteri Filppula missed his first game of the season with a knee injury. Kris Draper (groin), Tomas Holmstrom (groin), Darren McCarty (ribs) and Dan Cleary (jaw) all also missed the game for Detroit. ... In Sunday's game in Columbus, the Blue Jackets boosted their point total to 75, breaking their previous season high of 74 set in 2005-06.
1 - 0 CBJ
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 DET
3 - 1 DET
Holding the stick
Holding the stick