DETROIT – Even on a wobbly foot, Pavel Datsyuk made the Detroit Red Wings their old dominant selves again.
Datsyuk set up two goals, threw a big hit early on Evgeni Malkin, and ended the night plus-2 as the Red Wings used three power-play goals to rout the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-0 in the Stanley Cup final on Saturday night.
“When I play more I’m more comfortable,” said Datsyuk, who returned after missing seven games with a foot injury. “It’s a little hard to start in the final series when I missed a couple of games, but I’m ready to play more, especially with Hank (Henrik Zetterberg). (I have) lots of confidence and I’m feeling better and better.”
The Red Wings lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can clinch their 12th Stanley Cup and repeat as NHL champions with a win in Game 6 Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
Detroit beat the Penguins in six games in last year’s final.
Niklas Kronwall, Brian Rafalski and Zetterberg scored power-play goals in the second period as the Red Wings, accused of being tired after losing Game 4, found their legs.
Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma hopes the Penguins will feed off the home crowd and prevent the Wings from winning the Cup in their building for a second straight year.
“(Detroit is) one ahead of us ad we’ve got to go home and use that energy to our advantage and use Game 6 to draw even again.”
Dan Cleary and Valtteri Filppula also scored as the Red Wings chased Pittsburgh starter Marc-Andre Fleury after he conceded his fifth goal of the game at 15:40 of the second period. Mathieu Garon played the rest of the game in the Pittsburgh goal.
Chris Osgood made 22 saves – few of them on dangerous chances – for his second shutout of the playoffs.
And the Detroit power play, held to one goal through the first three games, broke out with three on nine attempts.
“I think we wanted to shoot a little bit more, get to second pucks. We did that,” Zetterberg said. “We spent some more time in their end and eventually we got our goals.”
The Penguins had some early chances, but the Detroit took over after taking a 2-0 lead early in the second period and the visitors fell to pieces, running around in panic and taking penalties.
As the teams took to the ice, the crowd of 20,066 chanted Datsyuk’s name, and he responded by giving new legs his previously tired-looking team.
“We’ve been able to have success but it’s been much harder obviously without (Datsyuk), ” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “You have to learn how to win a different way.
“I’ve been very impressed with our guys finding a way. We bought time so he could come back and ideally he can help us get over the top.”
Datsyuk’s return paid early dividends on Detroit’s opening goal, as he took a feed at centre from Rafalski and slipped the puck to Cleary for an off-wing shot at beat Fleury high to the glove side at 13:32. It was Cleary’s first goal of the final.
“(Datsyuk) brought a lot of energy on the ice and off the ice,” Zetterberg said. “He looked good when he was skating and he had a really good game.”
The rest of the game was dream night for the Detroit faithful, as a party atmosphere reigned in the seats and derisive chants were hurled at Fleury and frustrated Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
A Detroit power play had just ended and lines were changing when Osgood fed the puck up to Marian Hossa, who flipped it in front for Filppula to score 1:44 into the second period.
Kronwall walked past Hal Gill in front of the Pittsburgh net to score at 6:11, Rafalski scored on a long screened shot at 8:26 and Zetterberg was left alone on the right side to score his 11th of the playoffs at 15:40.
The Red Wings then coasted through a two-man advantage after Crosby slashed Zetterberg on the ankle and Max Talbot slashed Datsyuk on his sore foot. Datsyuk got back up and did not seem affected by the blow.
Notes: With Datsyuk’s return, forward Ville Leino came out of the lineup. . . Red Wings captain Nik Lidstrom moved into a tie with Scott Stevens for fourth place in all-time playoff games played with 233. In his next game, Lidstrom will tie Claude Lemieux for third place. The all-time leader is Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios with 266 followed by Mark Messier with 236. . . During the U.S. national anthem, two octopi were throw on the ice. Pittsburgh’s Max Talbot skated by and spit on one of them.