DETROIT – It only stands to reason that when Pavel Datsyuk scores, the Red Wings claim victory. But it’s the rate at which Detroit wins that boggles the mind.
“He’s got the whole package,” Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “It doesn’t matter what position you put him in, he’s going to be your best player.”
On Saturday, Datsyuk scored for the fourth time this season, helping lift the Wings to a 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers before a matinee crowd at Joe Louis Arena. Not surprising, Detroit is 4-0-0 when the Russian star's scored.
What’s a bit stunning is that since the 2010-11 season the Red Wings are 37-1-5 when Datsyuk scores in a game. And over the last eight-plus seasons, Detroit is 148-24-24 – that’s a remarkable .816 winning percentage.
Datsyuk got the Wings going when he scored his third power-play goal of the season at 8:33 of the second period. It gave the Wings a 1-0 lead before the Oilers scored their own power-play goal later in the period.
Kronwall was the recipient of some Datsyukian magic, which led to the defenseman’s game-winning goal Saturday afternoon.
“That’s just another one of his magical players,” said Kronwall, who scored on the power play. “I think a lot of people would have decided to shoot the puck, but he passed it instead. I’m sure a lot of people didn’t see it coming but that’s what we get from Pav, he does the unexpected, which is why he’s so successful.”
Datsyuk was a factor in every facet of the game Saturday, including the penalty kill, where he logged 4 ½ minutes of ice-time. With the club battling injuries to key guys who routinely kill penalties, particularly Darren Helm (back), it’s not an ideal situation for Datsyuk to be playing on the special team unit.
The Wings needed every ounce of energy that Datsyuk could provide on the penalty kill, limiting the Oilers to one goal on eight power play chances.
“We don’t want to waste his energy playing PK,” Kronwall said. “We’ll have to stay out of the box and play 5-on-5 or 4-on-4 instead and we can do his magic that way. I would hate for him to get hurt by a shot or something like that, but at the same time he’s so smart that a lot of times the D man won’t shoot the puck because he’s already in the lane.”
And of course the game wouldn’t have been complete without Datsyuk doing what he does best … stealing the puck off an opposing player’s stick, which he did to Oilers winger Taylor Hall late in the first period.
“I didn’t know until I was coming off the ice that it was Datsyuk,” Hall admitted. “If I would have known, I probably would have protected the puck better, because he’s so good at taking the puck away from guys.”
Datsyuk had two takeaways on Saturday, giving him 12 on the season, which is tops among NHL forwards.
THREE STARS: 3, Henrik Zetterberg, DET (2 assists); 2, Nikolai Khabibulin, EDM (28 saves); 1, Pavel Datsyuk, DET (1 goal, 1 assist).
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