NEWARK, N.J. -- Detroit coach Mike Babcock talked about desperation prior to the game. He was talking about the opponent.
One can assume the New Jersey Devils are desperate considering how fast they're falling, so Babcock's guys followed the tried-and-true recipe for dealing with a desperate team Saturday at Prudential Center. The Red Wings jumped all over the Devils, scoring enough goals within the first 102 seconds of the game to take the two points at stake.
Detroit scored on its first two shots Saturday en route to a 4-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 17,625. Tomas Holmstrom and Danny Cleary gave the Red Wings the lead by the 1:42 mark of the first period, Henrik Zetterberg extended it with his 10th goal of the season midway through the second period and Pavel Datsyuk capped the scoring in the third period.
The Red Wings, who beat the Canadiens in Detroit on Friday, appear to have erased the sting of their recent three-game losing streak. New Jersey has lost five in a row in regulation for the first time since November 2000.
"We have a good start today and it surprise me," said Pavel Datsyuk, who had a three-point night to give him 14 points over his last eight games. "We don't start always like that, but we'll take it. It's maybe the first time in my career we scored on the first shift. It's nice to have. It's new."
Chris Osgood picked up his first win since Oct. 30 in only his second start since that night against Nashville at Joe Louis Arena. He made 33 saves to get the better of Martin Brodeur, who made 19 saves in his second start in as many nights after sitting out three weeks with a bruised elbow.
"It's definitely a situation that is hard," Brodeur said of the Devils' woes. "It's hard on our fans. It's hard on the players. It's hard on the coaches and the organization when you have to go through this."
It was a good thing the Red Wings struck for two early goals because the Devils came at them hard down 2-0, forcing Osgood to be good. He made 13 saves in the first period and got some much-needed assistance from Nicklas Lidstrom, who twice on the same Devils' power play cleared out pucks that got through his goalie's pads and came perilously close to the goal line.
Osgood made another 12 saves in the second period, including one late when he had to reach back and cover it up in the blue paint.
"It's a different game (when it's 2-0 early), no doubt, but I thought overall we did a pretty good job of boxing them out," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall told NHL.com. "Ozzie came up huge for us a few times, and we were able to keep them on the outside for most of the game. When they were able to come inside Ozzie was there for us."
Babcock wasn't happy with how the Wings played after they got their first two goals, saying they just basically stood around for the next 15 minutes. However, they got a hard shift from their fourth line of Darren Helm, Kris Draper and Patrick Eaves at the end of the period and the momentum carried over into the second.
The Red Wings were fast and evasive in the second. The Devils couldn't match their speed through the neutral zone and had no answers for Detroit's counterattack off turnovers. Zetterberg made it 3-0 by scoring on his own rebound from the slot with 8:23 to play in the period.
"Especially after the first period when we started to get skating, there's no question that we ate them up on the track on the way back," Babcock said. "We played four lines and didn't play a lot of minutes for anybody. We just rolled them out the door and I thought our guys did a good job."
He's right about the minutes.
Datsyuk, who capped the scoring 10:12 into the third period, had three points but played only 17:18, the most of any Red Wing forwards. He averaged just 43 seconds per shift. Zetterberg played only 16:47, averaging the same 43 seconds per shift.
Patrik Elias gave the Devils some life by beating Osgood with a hard wrist shot from the right circle 39 seconds into the third period for a power-play goal.
The Devils had another power play a few minutes later when Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson was called for interfering with Mair. They got four shots on Osgood early in the power play but nothing late, and 29 seconds after stepping out of the box Ericsson helped set up the Wings' fourth goal.
He sent the puck down the ice into the far corner to Brodeur's left, but as the linesman was waiving off icing Zetterberg won a foot race to the puck, beating both Henrik Tallinder and Mark Fayne, and quickly whipped a backhanded tape-to-tape pass to Datsyuk, who was all alone in front of Brodeur.
Datsyuk made one move before scoring his 11th of the season with 9:48 left.
"It's kind of an important goal but it's more important that Hank find me and I'm alone in front of the net," Datsyuk said. "It's a heck of a play. After that one it was much easier for us."
Datsyuk, who had assists on the two early goals, has 7 points over the last three games and 4 goals and 10 assists in the last eight.
"We win and that's more important," he humbly said.
Holmstrom scored 28 seconds into the game by deflecting Datsyuk's seemingly harmless wrist shot from the right point off the iron, off Brodeur's back and into the net.
Only 1:14 later, Cleary took a cross-ice pass from Todd Bertuzzi in stride before firing a shot from the left circle that sailed over Brodeur's catching glove. Bertuzzi was able to connect with Cleary because the Devils, specifically David Clarkson, were slow on the backcheck and Cleary never broke stride.
The Red Wings didn't get their third shot on goal of the game until three minutes and 18 seconds later. They didn't need it.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
|Tomas Holmstrom (9) ASST: Pavel Datsyuk (24), Brad Stuart (9)|
1 - 0 DET
|Daniel Cleary (13) ASST: Todd Bertuzzi (15), Justin Abdelkader (5)|
2 - 0 DET
|Henrik Zetterberg (10) ASST: Tomas Holmstrom (7), Pavel Datsyuk (25)|
3 - 0 DET
|PPG - Patrik Elias (6) ASST: Travis Zajac (10), Ilya Kovalchuk (9)|
3 - 1 DET
|Pavel Datsyuk (11) ASST: Henrik Zetterberg (19), Jonathan Ericsson (3)|
4 - 1 DET
|Drew Miller Hooking against Travis Zajac|
|Jason Arnott Tripping against Darren Helm|
|Patrick Eaves Hooking against Ilya Kovalchuk|
|David Clarkson Fighting against Jonathan Ericsson|
|Jonathan Ericsson Fighting against David Clarkson|
|Niklas Kronwall Boarding against Jamie Langenbrunner|
|Anton Volchenkov Hooking against Valtteri Filppula|
|Jonathan Ericsson Interference against Rod Pelley|
|Colin White Slashing against Tomas Holmstrom|
|Henrik Zetterberg Hooking against Jason Arnott|