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Babcock's milestone bittersweet

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
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DETROIT – The Red Wings’ 3-0 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday night was a bittersweet one.

The win at Joe Louis Arena was career coaching win No. 300 for Wings coach Mike Babcock, but it came at a high cost when star forward Henrik Zetterberg left in the first period after a huge open-ice hit from Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund.

“Obviously we have a depleted group and we had a little challenge tonight,” Babcock said. “But I think other guys stepped up and just grinded it out.”

Zetterberg, the Wings’ leading scorer this season, drove himself to a Detroit hospital for an MRI of his left shoulder.

“He’s probably upset with himself, he shouldn’t have got hit like that,” Babcock said. “But what do you do?”

If Zetterberg misses any games, he will be the ninth Red Wings’ regular to be added to the injury list, joining Dan Cleary (separated shoulder), Johan Franzen (torn ACL), Niklas Kronwall (sprained knee), Valtteri Filppula (broken wrist), Jason Williams (fractured fibula), Jonathan Ericsson (bone bruise), Darren Helm (sprained wrist) and Andreas Lilja (headaches).

Babcock, who began his NHL coaching career in Anaheim in 2002, has now compiled a 300-150-62 record. Since taking over in Detroit prior to the 2005-06 season, Babcock has led the Red Wings to a 231-88-43 record, which includes a Stanley Cup championship in 2008 and an NHL record four straight 50-win seasons.

Babcock’s 231 team wins ranks fifth in club history, trailing only Jack Adams (413 wins), Bowman (410), Sid Abel (340) and Tommy Ivan (262).

It took Babcock 612 NHL games to reach the 300 win milestone. In comparison, it took legendary hall of fame coach Scotty Bowman 552 games to collect victory No. 300 in the NHL.

Babcock got career win No. 200 on Dec. 15, 2007. It took 166 games for him to reach 300 on Thursday night.

Rookie goalie Jimmy Howard, who recorded his first career shutout after stopping 30 Lightning shots, was asked if he would fight Babcock for the game puck.

“Nah, he can have it,” said Howard with a smile. “It’s a lot bigger milestone than this.”

Because of his success at both the NHL and international levels, Babcock was tabbed again by Team Canada to serve as coach of the Canadian team in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February.

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