NEW YORK – Two decades ago, a then 23-year-old Pavel Datsyuk collected his first NHL point while skating on a line famously called ‘Two Kids and a Goat’ with Boyd Devereaux, 23, and Brett Hull, 37.
On Sunday – 920 games after that first point in a home win over Edmonton – the Russian superstar surpassed 900 career points with a three-point effort in the Red Wings’ wild 6-5 victory over the Boston Bruins at Joe Louis Arena.
Sunday’s game capped an impressive week for the 37-year-old who finished with five goals, two assists and a shootout goal. For his efforts, the National Hockey League named Datsyuk its First Star of the Week.
Datsyuk also sparked the Wings’ special teams last week, scoring all four power-play goals, giving him six on the season, and tying him with Gustav Nyquist for the team lead.
The Wings were 3-0-1 last week with wins over Atlantic Division rivals Florida, Ottawa and Boston. Datsyuk scored twice in the 3-0 win over the Panthers. He also had an assist in the 3-1 win over the Senators, and a goal and a shootout goal in the 3-2 loss to Colorado.
A three-time Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward, Datsyuk is the sixth player in franchise history to reach the 900-point milestone, joining Gordie Howe (1,809), Steve Yzerman (1,755), Alex Delvecchio (1,281), Nicklas Lidstrom (1,142) and Sergei Fedorov (954).
Datsyuk has amassed 309 goals and 593 assists in 928 career games.
“I feel pretty fortunate to be on the bench when he gets his 900th,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after the win. “He's a special, special athlete. If he cheated offensively, he'd have 1,800 points. But he doesn't, he's a winner. I mean that. He's an absolute winner. Again, I feel real fortunate to be on the bench with him.”
Datsyuk scored twice and assisted on Henrik Zetterberg’s game winner in the third period to lead the Red Wings’ comeback on Sunday.
“Yeah, it was good to see,” said Zetterberg, who is seventh in franchise scoring with 827 points. “If he wasn’t as good of a two-way player and cared that much about defensive end of his play, of his game, he’d probably have a lot more points.”
Zetterberg and Darren Helm also scored two goals, becoming the first Wings’ trio to record multiple goals in the same game for the first time since Feb. 13, 1996, when Vyacheslav Kozlov, Greg Johnson and Keith Primeau all did so in a 9-4 win against Los Angeles.
Sunday was Datsyuk’s second multi-goal and three-point performances of the season as he extended his point streak to five straight games with five goals and nine points. He had two goals against Florida (Feb. 8) and a three-point outing at Arizona (Jan. 14).
Since reuniting Datsyuk and Zetterberg on the top forward line with Justin Abdelkader at the start of the five-game home stretch, which ended Sunday, the trio has combined on eight goals and 13 assists.
Blashill originally indicated that the move was made to create more energy at home where the Wings had been 11-10-5 before the recent 4-0-1 streak. But the coach plans to stick with the same lines today in Brooklyn, where the Wings will faceoff against the New York Islanders in a special Presidents’ Day matinee at Barclays Center.
“We’ll keep them together to start, then we’ll judge that as the game goes a long,” Blashill said. “But I think they’re starting to find chemistry. Matchups mean something but they’re not everything. I think the chemistry in which they play is probably more important than even the matchup, and they’ve played against the other teams’ best players the whole time at home. So they’re drawing the hard assignments no matter what. They just need to play at a high level like they have.”