It's a good thing for Detroit too.
Datsyuk took charge late in the third period against the Calgary Flames on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena and Alfredsson scored a pair of goals to go with his 700th career assist in the Red Wings' 3-2 overtime victory.
Datsyuk assisted on all three Detroit goals, including the game-winner. After gathering the puck in the corner of the Calgary defensive zone, the Russian center zipped a cross-ice pass to Alfredsson at the top of the slot for a one-time slapper that ripped past Flames goalie Karri Ramo and into the top left corner.
"It's huge for us," Alfredsson said. "I mean, we're hanging in games and we're playing some good hockey, and then all of a sudden, we have some lapses where we give the other team way too many chances. We did that at times [tonight] too, but we grinded throughout the whole time, 60 minutes, and obviously Pavel's play there at the end of regulation to draw the penalty turns out to be huge."
The victory ended a six-game winless streak for Detroit (16-12-9), ended a rare regulation losing streak on home ice that had reached five games and also snapped a nine-game streak of not earning the second point in games that extended past regulation (six shootout losses and three overtime defeats).
After a strong second half of the game, Datsyuk simply dominated his final shift of regulation. After intercepting two passes in the Calgary defensive zone and throwing long backhand shots toward the net, Datsyuk grabbed a loose puck in the neutral zone and streaked toward Ramo. He split defensemen Kris Russell and TJ Brodie in the low slot and wound up drawing a hooking call against Brodie. Alfredsson scored the game-winner on the ensuing power play to send Red Wings fans home happy.
"He's unbelievable out there," Detroit forward Joakim Andersson said of Datsyuk. "When he has the puck, it's hard to take it from him. He does some moves that you've never seen before. It's impressive what he does out there."
The Flames agreed.
"We all know what he's capable of," veteran forward Mike Cammalleri said. "We all have a tremendous amount of respect for him and deservedly so. I think what you saw out of him and some of their other guys tonight was ... they had a little bit of desperation, a little bit of hunger in their game coming down the stretch. I think they understood the importance of a tight game like that, and we need a little bit more of that."
The 41-year old Alfredsson scored the game's first goal and had one overturned by video review in the second. His milestone assist also came in the second, at 11:38, after blasting a slap shot from the right point that deflected off Andersson for a 2-1 lead.
"That was awesome," Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "[Alfredsson] has been huge for us. To be able to play like that is pretty remarkable, and the leadership that he brings and just the person that he is, [we're] very happy for him, very happy that he's on our side."
Jonas Gustavsson made 20 saves for the Red Wings, who visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
The lively end boards in Detroit played a role in the game's first two goals.
Detroit took a 1-0 lead 26 seconds into the game on Alfredsson's eighth goal, which he smacked home from the low slot off a juicy rebound created by Datsyuk's shot from the right circle. The scoring chance was created when Kronwall shot one off the boards behind the Calgary net and the puck skipped right to Datsyuk.
Less than five minutes later, Backlund tied it after the puck caromed right to him at the right of the Detroit net following Cammalleri's shot from the left circle.
It was the fifth goal for Backlund, who got just enough of the puck to beat Gustavsson. The Red Wings goalie only faced three more shots in the first period and stopped them all, but one was off a shorthanded breakaway by Backlund.
In the second, each team again scored one goal to keep it knotted 2-2 at the second intermission break.
Less than a minute after Andersson scored, at 12:52, Alfredsson appeared to put Detroit up 3-1 by chipping a puck over Ramo's head and into the net. The goal was overturned by video review that showed the puck never fully crossed the goal line before Ramo trapped it on the ice. Momentum turned quickly and the Flames tied the game a little more than three minutes later.
Detroit was called for three minor penalties less than two minutes apart to give Calgary a 5-on-3 situation that wound up lasting 1:44 and led to Giordano's goal. Seven seconds after Brendan Smith exited the penalty box to make it a 5-on-4, Giordano knotted it 2-2 by roofing a blast from the slot past Gustavsson's glove.
"Our power play's needed to give our team momentum, whether we score or not," Cammalleri said. "We were finally able to tonight. That was [big]."
Ramo preserved the tie at 6:46 of the third by getting his glove over the puck just in the nick of time behind him, but the Red Wings kept pushing, led by Datsyuk, until they had a much-needed victory.
"No doubt, the fans deserve it," Kronwall said. "I think when we scored the last one, I don't know if I heard it louder in this building in quite awhile. They've been sticking with us. I think the least we can do is applaud them for coming here and still supporting us."
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