The skinny: The Red Wings welcomed captain Henrik Zetterberg back with a win on Saturday, as they finally notched a victory over the Florida Panthers. Zetterberg scored the Wings’ second goal of the night and played almost 22 minutes, Daniel Alfredsson scored his 10th, Gustav Nyquist scored his fifth, and even Brendan Smith got a goal! The Wings were able to rally after blowing a 2-0 lead and held off the Panthers for their 12th road win in 18 games this season.
Three stars: 3. Brendan Smith. The young blueliner scored his first goal of the year in this one and blocked three shots.
2. Pavel Datsyuk. Two assists on the night for the Russian; his second assist was a picture-perfect flick from the blue line to a waiting Zetterberg on the right side.
1. Henrik Zetterberg. Z played well in the win, scoring his 12th goal and inspiring just the third Wings win in the last 12.
Five things: 1. Abdelkader no longer absent. Another Detroit forward returned to the ice on Saturday, as Justin Abdelkader played 16 minutes and was a +1 in his return from a concussion.
2. Hooray power play. Prior to Saturday, the Wings had gone 4-for-40 on the power play in the month of December. On Saturday, they stuck twice in five tries.
3. Gustavsson back on track? Over his previous four games, Jonas Gustavsson had posted an .840 save percentage to go along with a 3.82 goals against average. On Saturday, he made 30 saves, including some impressive stops down the stretch.
4. Goose’s game-winner. Gustav Nyquist scored what would turn out to be the winning goal in this one, and the third-period tally expanded the Detroit lead to 4-2 and was his first of December. Nyquist led all Wings with five shots on goal, despite playing less than 11 minutes.
5. Status of the Atlantic. The victory kept the Wings in fourth place in their division, fifth in the Eastern Conference, and six points clear of ninth place. They’ve managed to stay afloat despite a wave of injuries, and a lot of that is due to their young players who have been thrown into the metaphorical fire and made great strides in the process.
Which is funny, because the blogosphere told me Mike Babcock and Ken Holland hated the kids. Heh. Heh. Heh.
What’s next? The Wings travel to Nashville for a Monday night game with the Predators, and then, it’s the day we’ve all been waiting for: Leafs-Wings in the Winter Classic on Wednesday.