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Datsyuk sparks Wings' win in his return

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Stephen Weiss reacts to his first-period goal Wednesday night, his third goal in two games since returning from a lengthy groin injury. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – What groin injury?

Showing no ill effects from a sore groin that held him out of four straight, and six of the past eight games, Pavel Datsyuk returned to his old tricks Wednesday night.

Powering a newly formed line made up exclusively of natural centermen, the Magic Man scored twice in the Red Wings’ 5-2 victory over Philadelphia before a grateful Thanksgiving Eve crowd at Joe Louis Arena.

Along with Stephen Weiss (goal, assist) and Darren Helm (two assists), Datsyuk’s line picked up six points as a unit.

“He’s incredible, stealing pucks, a couple big goals for us at key times when we weren’t at our best,” Weiss said. “But when you have guys like that who can turn games pretty quickly, he’s fun to play with.

“I said early this morning that I wanted to keep it really simple, it’s only my second game. Helmer and I playing the wing. We just wanted to get pucks in and try to play in their end, and really, we didn’t have much of that. It was kind of back and forth, not much going on all game, but we just ended up getting a couple of bounces around the net and it ends up being the difference. That’s huge.”

Weiss gave Detroit a 1-0 lead at 10:12 of the opening period. It was his third goal this week, all of them from the dirty area in front of the crease. As soon as the puck dropped on a restart to the left of Flyers’ net, Weiss moved into position, beating defenseman Braydon Coburn to the spot where he tipped Helm’s rising shot under Steve Mason’s left pad.

“That’s a set play off a face-off,” Weiss said, who has three goals on four shots this season. “That inside guy’s got to get to the net and when you do that and shoot the puck sometimes it goes off you and goes in. We’ll take those all day.”

Jakub Kindl assisted on the Wings’ first goal, picking up his first point since his power-play goal against New Jersey on Nov. 7. He also assisted on Datsyuk’s power-play goal.

In his return from a groin injury that held him out for all but one of the Red Wings' first 20 games, Weiss scored two goals Monday in the Wings' 4-3 win against Ottawa. His second goal that evening was career point No. 400.

His goal Wednesday was No. 150 in his 13-season career.

“Wow, I didn’t know either of those,” Weiss said. “I heard about the one last night, but they’re nice accomplishments to have in your career, especially over the last year and a half, it’s been a rough ride. So to see some positive things happen it’s a nice change.”

The return of a healthy Weiss has been like a new acquisition for the Red Wings, who’ve waited to see the productivity that they expected when they signed the veteran to a five-year contract two summers ago.

“I think he can be a great addition for us, once his gets his confidence and he gets his game shape – you’ve got to remember he hasn’t played a lot of games for us,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “Right now it’s baby steps for him, but he’s doing a great job for us. Hopefully he can keep going and he can slide over to that center spot.”

The 31-year-old Weiss now has five goals and seven points in 29 games with the Red Wings.

Unlike last season, the Wings have had a run of good luck in the health department lately. Helm and Henrik Zetterberg have played in every game, and now with the return of Datsyuk and Weiss to the lineup the Wings are in a good spot.

“Like I keep trying to tell them every day, I think we have a chance to become a good team,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We're not there yet by any means, but we have a chance to keep getting better. … You just gotta keep getting better. I know they don't hand anything out 22 games into it.”

The Flyers tied the score on their first shot of the second period when Claude Giroux’s shot glanced off Kyle Quincey’s skate and beat Howard high above his left catching glove at 2:31.

Howard made 22 saves while improving to 10-4-4 on the season.

The Red Wings regain their one-goal lead when Tomas Jurco’s shot found its way through traffic, between Michael Del Zotto’s legs and over Steve Mason’s left shoulder at 10:18 of the second.

Datsyuk then scored on the power play 89 seconds later. It was his first goal since Nov. 2 at Buffalo.

“When you (come back) after missing as many games it’s more important that your partners help and they did a great job that they helped me a lot and stuck with me,” Datsyuk said. “It’s awesome. I appreciate it for this one.”

In less than an 8 ½-minute span, Detroit scored three second-period goals. Datsyuk’s first chased the Flyers’ starting goalie at 11:47. He then finished the second-period scoring on backup goalie Ray Emery at 18:39.

Zetterberg capped Detroit’s scoring on an empty-netter for his first goal in 10 games.

The win ended the Red Wings three-game losing streak to the Flyers, who have now lost six straight games on the road this season.

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