-- Henrik Zetterberg
was the clear first star of the game in Detroit’s 5-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
But that’s nothing new to the Red Wings’ leading scorer.
Zetterberg has collected points in 26 of 28 games this season. He’s tied for second in NHL scoring with 40 points, and is first amongst Western Conference forwards in All-Star game voting (175,270 votes).
On Friday, he added his second-career hat trick to the growing list of achievements.
Not bad for the Red Wings’ seventh-round draft choice in 1999.
“Your best players have got to be your best players,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s what makes you good.”
The first came off a long feed from Pavel Datsyuk
, who found Zetterberg waiting to the right of Minnesota netminder Josh Harding. Harding couldn’t grab the sharp-angled shot with his glove, opening up the Red Wings’ scoring at 17:43 of the first.
He added his second shorthanded. On a rush down ice, Johan Franzen
shot wide of the net, but collected the puck and found Zetterberg, who again was alone in front of Harding. Zetterberg waited until Harding dropped, and then curled the puck around the netminder before finally chipping a shot into the corner of the net. That built the Wings’ lead to 2-0 just
five minutes into the second period.Jiri Hudler
and Franzen added tallies before the hats started falling from the Joe Louis Arena rafters. Less than a minute into the third, Datsyuk found Zetterberg hanging in the faceoff circle. Zetterberg’s one-timer deflected off a Minnesota stick before sailing past Harding for the 5-0 Detroit lead.
“I think we had control of the game right from the beginning,” Zetterberg said. “When we’re up three, four goals in this building it’s tough to beat us.”
Dominik Hasek, starting his second straight game, picked up his first shutout of the season and 77th of his career. Hasek stopped 19 shots, with his best on a late Minnesota power play in the second period. Hasek, on the goal line kicked out the left pad to stop both a
redirection off defenseman Niklas Kronwall
and a Wild rebound.
He also skated past the faceoff circles to pokecheck the puck from Marian Gaborik, who subsequently did a full-out flip over the Red Wings netminder late in the third period. The spectacle even earned Hasek a tripping minor.
“I didn’t want to break my shutout,” Hasek.
After a sluggish first period where the Red Wings outshot the Wild 10-4, scoring wasn’t the only thing that exploded in the second period. Bruisers Todd Fedoruk and Aaron Downey got in on the action. At 7:02, both decided to drop the gloves. But Fedoruk jumped Downey and they
snowballed together to the ground before any punches were thrown.
Both served roughing minors and finally fought on the next shift. Fedoruk nailed Downey into the boards, and they tangled right after. Downey grabbed a hold of Fedoruk’s jersey and they tumbled to the ground, where they gave each other a pat on the back.
“I think the big thing is just him (Downey) being there,” Babcock said. “It gives them (the rest of the team) breathing space, and that’s important.”
It was the Red Wings’ fifth consecutive victory, and also their 20th win in 28 games. Detroit hit the 20-win mark the fastest since 2001-02 when the team won both the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup.