|Pavel Datsyuk scored twice, giving the Red Wings' center six goals and 14 points in the last 10 games. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings) |
ANAHEIM, Calif. – It’s difficult to fathom how Pavel Datsyuk doesn’t have a regular-season hat trick on is illustrious Red Wings resume.
It’s equally incomprehensible that the Russian superstar had mustered back-to-back multiple goal games just once in 13 NHL seasons – before Monday night at Honda Center.
“He’s hands down one of the best players that I’ve ever seen play,” center Riley Sheahan said. “Lately he’s been doing some crazy things on the ice. I don’t know how to pinpoint what he’s been doing differently because he’s always playing so well, (but) the last few games though he’s just been a powerhouse out there.”
For the second straight game, Datsyuk carried Detroit’s offense on his back. He scored two goals Monday – giving him 21 for the season – but the Anaheim Ducks overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat the Wings, 4-3, in a shootout.
The Ducks got shootout goals by Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg, while Gustav Nyquist scored the Wings’ lone goal in the skills competition.
Without captain Henrik Zetterberg in the lineup for the first time this season, Datsyuk took control of a scoreless second period, scoring twice in less than three minutes. He also helped Detroit recover in Saturday’s bazaar 7-6 overtime win at Dallas, collecting two goals and two assists, including the tying goal in the final minute to force the extra session. He now has six goals and 14 points with a plus-6 rating in the last 10 games.
“He’s bringing it every night but he’s not just putting up points,” Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “He’s doing all the little things right. He leads the way for us. Whether that’s winning a battle in your own zone, skating the puck out or making the easy play off the glass, he’s just always making the right play, making the right decision and younger guys can learn from that.”
Zetterberg, who was punched in the head during the second period of Saturday’s win at Dallas, is also doubtful for Tuesday’s game against the defending Stanley Cup champions Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
Datsyuk’s two goals gave the Red Wings a 2-0 lead and ties him with Zetterberg for the team lead in points (49), as well as with former Wings forward Slava Kozlov for career points (853) among all-time Russian skaters in the NHL. It’s also the eighth time that Datsyuk has reached the 20-goal plateau for a season, the first since 2010-11.
“Pav is the magic man for a reason,” Kronwall said. “He does things out there with the puck that no one else can do. I’m extremely happy that he’s on our team and not another team.”
Datsyuk hasn’t gone more than three games this season without collecting at least one point, and he’s only done that once. He is averaging 1.04 points per game in 47 games, just one of eight players among the NHL’s top-30 scorers with an average above 1.00.
The back-to-back multi-goal effort is the second of Datsyuk’s career, and the first since February 2009 when he scored two goals each in road victories at Pittsburgh and Nashville.
“He’s a leader and he’s dominant,” Sheahan said. “He’s one of the best players in the NHL. To have a guy like that on your team to learn from is amazing and he’s been doing such an amazing job for us.”
For much of the final period, Anaheim out-played the Red Wings, mounting a comeback on consecutive even-strength goals by Andrew Cogliano, Emerson Etem and Francois Beauchemin.
But for the second straight game, the Red Wings got an equalizing goal to force overtime. This time Sheahan took a cross-ice pass from Gustav Nyquist and buried a shot into the open side of the net with 3:51 left in the third.
“We kind of started playing a little bit harder when his happens and saved game,” Datsyuk said. “But it cost us. We missed a few goals, but then we scored and it’s tie game. But if we had just kept playing the way we did in first two periods.”