Zetterberg set up a pair of goals, including the game-winner, in a 4-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Saturday at United Center. The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1, with Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Monday night.
"He's taken on [the] 'C' like all the rest of the Red Wings have ever done," said Detroit rookie defenseman Brendan Smith, who scored the winning goal off a feed from Zetterberg. "He's stepped up so big for us. He's proven he's one of the all-time captains in only one year, and how much he steps up -- he's such a clutch player. We look up to him so much, and I think we feed off his strength and competition level. It helps our team for sure."
The Blackhawks dominated much of Game 1 and took a 1-0 lead Saturday despite being outplayed in the first period. Detroit coach Mike Babcock had hoped his team would be able to steal one of the first two games, and the Red Wings didn't miss an opportunity in a contest they clearly controlled.
"We knew they were going to come back and try to make up for Game 1," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "We didn't quite match the effort. It was frustrating, but at the same time we did a lot of good things and started getting more traffic later in the game. We've just got to find more ways to be effective in their zone.
"I wouldn't say it's a wake-up call. I think we know exactly what we need to improve on and do it right away."
After a strong first period, the Red Wings were even better in the second and grabbed their first lead of the series. Damien Brunner tied the game 1-1 when he deflected a point shot from Jakub Kindl past Corey Crawford at 2:40. It was a team-leading fourth goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Brunner.
Smith put Detroit in front late in the period. Zetterberg beat Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the puck after Detroit forward Daniel Cleary chipped it toward the left corner. The Detroit captain put a pass through defenseman Duncan Keith's legs to Smith, who had fallen near the Blackhawks' bench when he sent the puck toward Cleary at the far wall but was able to skate back into the play and finish with 3:52 to go for his second goal of the playoffs.
Johan Franzen pushed Detroit's lead to 3-1 a little more than seven minutes into the third period. The Red Wings did not have a shot in the period, but seconds after Justin Abdelkader had the first, Franzen scored on the second at 7:19.
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson sent a pass from his own blue line to Franzen, who snuck behind the defense at the far blue line and snapped a shot under the crossbar for his fourth of the postseason to tie Brunner for the team lead. It was Franzen's first even-strength goal in the postseason after three power-play goals against the Anaheim Ducks in the opening round.
Valtteri Filppula made it 4-1 at 12:03. Chicago's Dave Bolland won a faceoff at the right circle in the Detroit end, but Zetterberg chipped the puck past defenseman Brent Seabrook and started a 3-on-2. Zetterberg sent the puck to Filppula in the middle of the ice, and he backhanded a shot past Crawford despite falling to the ice after being tripped just before he shot it.
"I think we kept playing," Zetterberg said. "We didn't sit back, we wanted to go for the next goal, and it was nice to see when [Filppula] got that fourth one. We kind of finished the game. ... I think all the levels we were better. But I think it all started with good defense and then the offense will come."
It was Filppula's second goal of the postseason. Zetterberg has 10 points in the playoffs, which puts him in a tie for fourth in the League.
Zetterberg had 10 points in the final four games of the regular season, each a Detroit win, as the Red Wings secured a playoff berth on the final day. He had five points in two elimination games to help the Red Wings upset the second-seeded Ducks in seven games. He added two Saturday.
"I think that's what makes Toews and [Pavel] Datsyuk and Zetterberg different from other guys in the League is that's what they do -- they compete and when it doesn't go their way they dig down and find a way to go harder," Babcock said. "That's why you want you want them around. They are a great example for the rest of the group."
Chicago forward Patrick Kane had the lone goal of the first period, his first of this postseason. Patrick Sharp chased down the puck after tipping it near center ice, and the Blackhawks had a quick 3-on-2 develop. Sharp tried to send the puck across to Kane on the right wing, but the pass was deflected. It went to Michael Handzus, who shuffled it to Kane for a one-timer at 14:05.
The Red Wings played better in the first period than they had in Game 1, but the Blackhawks went to the intermission with the lead.
"We talked about that. When you do good things, good things happen over time -- just keep doing it," Babcock said. "Obviously we were disappointed that we didn't play the way we were capable of in Game 1 so we went through it and looked at it. We felt that if we do what we normally do, we'd be right here in a tight series with an opportunity. Good for us now because it is a best-of-5."
In a reversal of Game 1, which was even for the first period before the Blackhawks dominated the final two, the Red Wings seized control with a strong second and kept up the pressure in the third.
The Blackhawks appeared frustrated at times and were never able to mount much of a sustained push like they did in a 4-1 victory in Game 1 on Wednesday night. This was Detroit's first win against Chicago in nine tries, and the Red Wings' first in regulation since April 2011 -- the Blackhawks were on a 9-0-2 run against their rivals.
"They controlled the puck a lot and we didn't, so they kind of used our own game against us playing puck possession, keeping it in [our end], and I thought we were chasing it all game," Kane said. "By no means is it going to be an easy series or a cakewalk."