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Datsyuk continues to amaze Wings

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Pavel Datsyuk lead the Red Wings with three assists in Monday's 5-0 win over Buffalo, giving the veteran center 700 career points. (Getty Images)
DETROIT – It certainly wasn’t the kind of start to the season that anyone would have expected. But ever since mid-November, Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk has enjoyed a resurgence of sorts.

Monday night, Datsyuk had his second three-point game of the season, assisting on three goals in leading the Wings to a record-setting 15th straight victory at home with a dominating 5-0 win over the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

But his teammates know that Datsyuk works too hard to allow a slow start sully an entire season.

“Sometimes you go through slumps and you work your way through them and he's been doing that,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “He's always been one of the hardest workers on our team. You look at takeaways, he's always one of the tops in the league and that's just hard work. So he's always working hard but it's great to see him make a pass like today, for an example, when he passed that backhand across ice to Mule before he scored. He's able to make those plays and he's working real hard to earn them, too.”

The three-point performance Monday gives Datsyuk 700 points in his illustrious NHL career, making him the eighth Wings’ player to reach the milestone, joining Gordie Howe (1,809), Steve Yzerman (1,755), Alex Delvecchio (1,281), Nicklas Lidstrom (1,132), Sergei Fedorov (954), Norm Ullman (758) and Ted Lindsay (728).

It’s easy to take what Datsyuk has meant to the Wings’ organization for granted. But in nine-plus seasons, he now has 195 multi-point games, which covers 27.5 percent of his 706 career games. And since snapping his slow start slump, Datsyuk has 11 goals and 28 assists in the last 28 games for a 1.39 points per game average.

“I'm really happy for 700,” Datsyuk said. “I was never thinking about it before, making any milestone. It's hard but I appreciate chance to play with good players.”

Datsyuk had assists on three consecutive goals that gave the Wings a 4-0 lead. Thirteen seconds after building the four-goal cushion, Darren Helm scored goal No. 5 that chased the Sabres’ goalie Ryan Miller from the game at 4:32 of the second period.

Datsyuk’s first assist was reminiscent of his pretty set-up pass that he made to Todd Bertuzzi in the 3-2 overtime win against Chicago on Saturday. This time, Datsyuk spotted Johan Franzen who was streaking through the neutral zone. Datsyuk then delivered a beautiful backhanded tape-to-tape stretch pass that went cross-ice to Franzen, who cruised in alone before snapping shot that beat Miller high to the stick-side at 18:11.

“He heard me,” said Datsyuk, of his linemate. “Looked like he stole something, I just throw to him. He handled it himself.”

With the victory, the Wings set a new franchise mark for consecutive wins at home, surpassing the 1964-65 squad, which won 14 straight. But the record won’t overshadow what the Wings ultimately are looking to do in a tight Western Conference battle where points in the standings are a premium.

“I like the points, to tell you the truth, because if you don't get them you're not going anywhere in the standings,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You always like to have crazy stuff like (the winning streak record), but the bottom line is we got a game tomorrow and we got to find a way to win the game because the standings are so tight.”

The Wings travel to Dallas where they will play the Stars at American Airlines Arena Tuesday night.

For the Wings to set a new league record for most consecutive home wins, they’ll need to win their next six games at Joe Louis Arena against Columbus, St. Louis, Edmonton, Anaheim, Philadelphia and Dallas.

The league’s longest home winning streak is shared by the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and the 1975-76 Flyers, who each won 20 consecutive on home ice.

The Wings tied a league record for most home victories in a single season when they posted a 36-3-2 record in 1995-96. Detroit is now 18-2-1 at home this season.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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