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Hossa hopes Datsyuk's return is a spark

by Brian Compton
DETROIT -- With each passing game that he doesn't score, Detroit Red Wings forward Marian Hossa knows the number of questions headed in his direction is only going to grow.

Unlike the previous three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there was no offensive outburst from Hossa in Game 4. Instead, he was held without a goal for the fifth straight contest as the Wings dropped a 4-2 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena.

With the series now tied at two games apiece, the Red Wings need Hossa to contribute now more than ever. Game 5 will take place on Saturday night at Joe
Louis Arena -- where Hossa has yet to score this postseason.

"There's always pressure, but you can't be too worried about it and start thinking and pushing," said Hossa, who scored a pair of goals in each of the previous Game 4s in these playoffs. "You just have to play and use your instincts. Just do it like you did all year and keep it simple."

To be fair, Hossa isn't the only one struggling to score goals. Tomas Holmstrom, who is known for scoring the greasy tallies in front of the net, has been held without a goal for 16 consecutive games. The veteran last scored in Game 2 of Detroit's opening-round sweep of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Holmstrom has six shots on goal in the first four games of this series. Hossa had six on Thursday night.

"We have to step up and get going offensively, help this team score some goals," Hossa said. "We know we have to be better offensively. We have to step up."

Hossa will get some help for Game 5, when Pavel Datsyuk returns to the lineup for the Red Wings. Datsyuk, though, has just one goal this postseason -- a slow start that Detroit coach Mike Babcock believes contributed to Hossa's struggles. Datsyuk hasn't played since Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I think for starters, him and Pav got off to a tough start in the playoffs and it didn't go good," Babcock said on Friday. "And then that guy named Pav isn't here ... I don't know if you've noticed that. So that affects lots of things. It affects lots of people. It's been harder for him."

Hossa admitted it's been difficult to play without Datsyuk, a Hart Trophy finalist who had 65 assists during the regular season. Datsyuk skated in warmups on Thursday night before being shut down for the night. On Friday, though, Babcock declared Datsyuk ready for Game 5.

That's good news for Hossa.

"It's always tough when one of the best players can not play," Hossa said. "It would be a huge boost for the team if Pav can play. He couldn't go (in Game 4), and we're still hoping for the next game."

The Red Wings took a much-needed day off on Friday after playing the first four games of this series in six nights. Detroit also only had two days off in between the end of the Western Conference Finals and the start of the Stanley Cup Final. The hope is that the short rest will do their bodies good.

Still, it won't change the fact that the Wings need to create more offensively.

"The rest is important, but everybody knows what we have to do," Hossa said. "We know what we have to do better to be successful. We've talked about it, and we have to do it."

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