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Red Wings beat Canucks 3-1 on Zetterberg's 3rd-period goal and Howard's 31 saves

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DETROIT - Henrik Zetterberg scored midway through the third period and Jimmy Howard made 31 saves, giving the Detroit Red Wings a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.

Zetterberg took a long pass from Brad Stuart, slipped past the defence and lifted a backhander over Roberto Luongo's left shoulder for his team-leading 17th point.

Luongo made 26 saves in his first start since facing Detroit on Oct. 27 when he aggravated a broken rib. After Luongo was pulled for an extra skater, Niklas Kronwall cleared the puck from the Red Wings' end, got a fortunate bounce off the boards and it trickled into the empty net.

Tomas Holmstrom gave Detroit a 1-0 lead late in the first period. Vancouver's Mason Raymond tied it in the second.

Detroit won its third consecutive home game and is 5-1 after a .500 start.

The Canucks have lost three in row and close a five-game road trip Saturday at Colorado.

Vancouver outplayed the Red Wings for much of the game, but left Joe Louis Arena without much to show for it.

The Canucks outshot Detroit 15-5 in the first period and after an evenly played second period, it controlled the action in the third until Zetterberg scored at the eight-minute mark.

Detroit lost players in the off-season who combined to score 88 goals. Zetterberg, Holmstrom and Pavel Datsyuk have produced enough to make the defending Western Conference champions competitive after struggling early in the season.

Holmstrom had eight goals and three assists in his previous 11 games, producing like the player he was before injuries led to him missing 29 games and scoring just 14 times last season.

He scored his ninth from his usual spot - standing in front of the net. Datsyuk and Zetterberg passed the puck to each other along the endboards, then Zetterberg skated to a corner and perfectly set up Holmstrom with a centring pass.

NOTES: Steve Yzerman dropped the ceremonial first puck in a pregame ceremony, honouring him after he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night. ... Vancouver's Jannik Hansen played for the first time this season, returning from a hand injury. ... Drew Miller made his Detroit debut, a day after being claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay. He filled in for Kirk Maltby, who was feeling ill. ... Howard earned his second career victory Oct. 27 at Vancouver, where he made 20 saves after Osgood was pulled.

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