VANCOUVER – Henrik Zetterberg picked a good time to break out of his goal-scoring slump.
Zetterberg scored two goals, including the winner, as the Detroit Red Wings downed the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Saturday night.
“I didn’t even think about (the slump),” said Zetterberg, who has still been producing several assists and averaging a point per game.
“I think you in Canada are more stat freaks than we are in the States, so it’s nice to get it going here where you notice it.”
The Detroit captain’s goals were his first in 11 games. He had not scored since the Wings thrashed the Canucks 8-3 in the Motor City on Feb. 24.
He was happier to see his club, which has been in the unusual position of battling for a playoff spot, get two points.
“We’ve talked about (the team’s lack of productivity) many times this year, and it’s nice to get a few goals.”
Justin Abdelkader also scored twice for the Red Wings (14-10-5), and Daniel Cleary supplied a single marker as they posted their second road win in two nights.
“I think that was the first time in my career that I scored two goals and (the puck) didn’t even touch my stick,” said Abdelkader, who saw the disc go in off his skate and chest, respectively.
Abdelkader considered himself fortunate just to play after he suffered a cut on his foot in Edmonton the night before. The cut required eight to 10 stitches to close.
“I just got my skate fixed (Saturday) morning, and came back for the game and didn’t know if I would be able to play or not,” he said.
Pavel Datsyuk also had a banner night for the victors, recording three assists.
Alex Burrows scored both of Vancouver’s goals. His first, which came just six seconds into the contest, was the fastest game-opening goal in Canucks history.
Zetterberg made amends for losing the opening face-off to Henrik Sedin prior to Burrows’ quick goal.
“We wanted (Henrik Sedin’s) line to play against Zetterberg, and they did a real good job in the first period and part way through the second,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault.
“In the third period they had Datsyuk going out there and Hank had a tough time against that line. Their top players were obviously a little bit better than ours.”
Vancouver outshot Detroit 35-26. The Wings went 1 for 3 on the power play while the Canucks were blanked on six man-advantage opportunities.
The Canucks lost for the first time in three games as they were denied in their quest to avenge an 8-3 loss to the Red Wings in Detroit on Feb. 24.
Burrows opened the scoring following the opening face-off as he took a cross-ice pass from Daniel Sedin and wired the puck just inside the post behind Jimmy Howard from the top of the right face-off circle. The goal was the first for Burrows in 11 games.
He broke Trevor Linden’s previous record for Vancouver’s fastest game-opening goal—nine seconds—set against Anaheim on Jan. 16, 1994. The goal was the fourth-fastest in NHL history.
But the Canucks generated few dangerous opportunities afterwards, despite outshooting Detroit by a wide margin in the first 30 minutes.
“It was a tough start, especially in this building,” said Howard. “You don’t want to give them momentum like that, because it can get pretty loud really quick.
“So I thought we did a great job in responding and not letting it get us down.”
After Abdelkader created a 1-1 tie at 6:08 of the first period, Jannik Hansen had a chance to draw the Canucks even on a penalty shot about three minutes later, after he was hauled down on a breakaway by Abdelkader. But the Canucks winger clanked his shot off the corner of the post and crossbar after beating Howard.
“I decided to go with the poke check,” said Howard. “I don’t know if that threw him off or what, but he hit the post.”
Zetterberg’s second goal increased Detroit’s lead to 3-1 just 1:20 into the third period as he whipped Valtteri Filppula’s pass behind Roberto Luongo on a two-on-two with Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa rushing to get back after he was caught out of position.
The Red Wings scored more than three goals for the first time since they shellacked the Canucks, and have now outscored the Canucks 13-5 this season. Howard was at a loss to explain why the Wings are able to score so liberally against Vancouver.
But he hopes the win will rejuvenate his club, which has battled numerous injuries, as the playoffs draw closer.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs,” said Howard. “Hopefully, we can find a little bit more of an even keel out there now—instead of some peaks and valleys.”
Notes: The Canucks lost winger David Booth to a leg injury in the final minute of the first period. He left the building on crutches with his left leg in a walking boot. … Earlier Saturday, the Canucks signed Kellan Lain, a six-foot-six, 220-pound centre out of Lake Superior State. The 23-year-old Oakville, Ont., native recorded 16 points (8-8-16) and 111 penalty minutes in 32 games during his third and final collegiate season. … Detroit winger Patrick Eaves played his 400th NHL game. … The Canucks wore Vancouver Millionaires replica jerseys in honour of the team that toiled between 1912 and 1922 in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. … The Red Wings have lost defenceman Kyle Quincey indefinitely to a fractured cheekbone suffered Friday in Edmonton. Ian White took his place in the lineup. … Booth needs one more point for 200 in his career. … Vancouver winger Zack Kassian sat out with a recurring lower-back injury that flared up Friday and bothered him again Saturday.