Pavel Datsyuk scored twice Thursday night as the Detroit Red Wings cruised to a 6-2 victory at Tampa Bay in their first meeting with the Lightning since Yzerman left the Wings last May to become the Bolts' general manager.
It was the first time since turning pro in 1983 that Yzerman has been associated with a team playing the Red Wings. He spent 22 seasons with Detroit as a player and four more as an executive with the Wings before coming to Tampa Bay.
"It was a little bit awkward seeing Stevie's name associated with another team," said Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, a longtime teammate who inherited the captain's "C" when Yzerman retired in 2006. "But once the game started -- we're here to win a game. He's doing a tremendous job with that organization, but we're here to win games."
A Detroit victory is what usually happens when the Wings play Tampa Bay -- Detroit has won five in a row since, is 6-0 with a tie since the Lightning's last win on Jan. 7 , 2003, and 24-5-2 all-time since the Bolts entered the NHL in 1992.
The win delighted a large group of Red Wings fans among the sellout crowd of 20,849 for the matchup of division leaders.
"That might have been the biggest I've ever seen in all the years I've been here," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "On the road we've had some unbelievable crowds, but tonight, that was a good crowd."
"This is the standard in the league. This is the best all-around team," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said of the Wings. "We've got a ways to go to get to that level. We have two months to get there."
Dan Cleary and Datsyuk gave Detroit a 2-1 lead after one period. The goals by Hedman and Downie got the Bolts even, Hedman scored his first goal in 32 games at 11:51 and Downie tied it at 14:38.
But the tie didn't last long. Kronwall put the Wings ahead to stay with a power-play goal at 16:34. Abdelkader beat Dwayne Roloson at the 18-minute mark for a 4-2 lead after two periods.
Datsyuk extended the lead to 5-2 on his second goal of the game, at 11:49 of the third. An octopus -- a tradition at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena -- was thrown onto the ice after the goal. Helm scored on a breakaway with 1:50 remaining.
The teams don't meet again this season, so the Wings don't have to worry about seeing Yzerman unless the teams meet in the Stanley Cup Final.
"We're proud of him and cheering for him every night -- except when he plays us," Babcock said.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report