For the past nine years, Pavel Datsyuk
has been wearing the winged wheel and dazzling Joe Louis Arena crowds with his spectacular stickhandling and puck control. But even he may have outdone himself Saturday afternoon.
As the first period was winding down, Datsyuk broke in on Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Feeling the pressure from an oncoming Coyotes defenseman, Datsyuk put the puck, along with his stick, between his legs and got the shot off. That’s right – he took the shot with the stick between his legs.
“Maybe it’s the fans cheering for us today,” Datsyuk joked. “It was a big help, maybe too much excitement. Stupid thing.”
Although he didn’t score on the play, Darren Helm
grabbed the rebound and snapped it in, giving the Wings a 3-0 lead, and giving Datsyuk his third point of the night. The Wings’ forward ended with a four-point outing, helping the Red Wings to a 4-3 win.
Datsyuk’s first period was quite the response after Joe Louis Arena stood still early in the first from Johan Franzen
lay on the ice motionless for an extended period of time. Phoenix captain Shane Doan hit Franzen almost four minutes into the first period. For a team that had already lost two-way forward Henrik Zetterberg
with a lower body injury, losing Franzen’s power-forward presence would be devastating.
Although the Mule returned later in the game, the Wings proved once again that they can overcome injuries. Just like Game 1, Datsyuk put the team on his back, being everywhere on the ice. It was as if the puck was following him, not the other way around.
“Yeah we played well today, but hockey isn’t individual, it’s a team game,” Datsyuk said. “We played well today, had lots of movement and lots of shots. We scored on a couple power plays and that was big help.”
As the crowd slowly came back to life, the Wings responded as well, controlling the pace of play. After coming up short on their first power play, the Wings had another opportunity when Phoenix forward Martin Hanzal took a roughing and unsportsmanlike penalty. This time they delivered, with Datsyuk grabbing a rebound off of a Nick Lidstrom shot.
After that, the Wings dominated the first period, with Datsyuk having an assist on Brian Rafalski’s power-play goal and the afore-mentioned Helm goal.
The Russian sniper now has five points the first two games of the series. He even threw a booming hit on Phoenix forward Andrew Ebbet at the end of the second period, giving people a reminder of why he is considered one of the most well-rounded players in the NHL. The Wings now take a 2-0 series lead to Phoenix, where the Coyotes will be a desperate team.
“Yeah, they played well today,” Datsyuk said. “Now they go back home with lots of fans cheering for them.”