DETROIT — Henrik Zetterberg's health wasn't a question, even when the Red Wings needed a third-period spark against St. Louis.
Detroit's captain didn't appear queasy, despite an illness that had sidelined him from practice earlier in the week. And he didn’t panic.
One of the Red Wings' cooler-headed players went for the simplest option in the Red Wings' 5-3 win over the Blues. Instead of looking to shoot, Zetterberg opted to pass.
With Detroit on a five-minute power play after St. Louis captain David Backes took a match penalty for a hit to the head on defenseman Kent Huskins halfway through the third period, Zetterberg set up Pavel Datsyuk's go-ahead goal with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
With the teams tied 3-3, Datsyuk took Zetterberg’s pass and weaved into the left circle in St. Louis' defensive zone to beat Blues goalie Brian Elliott, who was screened on the play.
Then, the Red Wings killed off an interference penalty against Daniel Cleary in the final three minutes, and with 12.6 seconds left in the game, Zetterberg scored his third goal when he beat T.J. Oshie in a foot race to the puck, fell to the ice, and batted a shot into an open net.
Still, after completing his fifth career hat trick, Zetterberg focused on his teammate's effort.
“Datsyuk scored that third one for us, and that was a big key for us,” said Zetterberg, who also had two assists.
The Red Wings erased St. Louis' 3-2 second-period lead and snapped St. Louis' four-game winning streak.
“We battled back in the second,”said St. Louis center Patrik Berglund, whose second-period goal gave St. Louis its only lead. “But you've got to be able to kill off penalties if you want to win the game.”
Zetterberg's 5-on-3 power-play goal at 6:12 of the first — a one-timer from the right circle on a feed from Damien Brunner — gave Detroit a 1-0 lead, and Zetterberg scored less than two minutes later on outlet pass from Jonathan Ericsson.
But St. Louis defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk beat a screened Jimmy Howard (23 saves) on a shot from the left side to cut the lead to 2-1 at 9:50, and Matt D'Agostini tied the game less than three minutes later.
Berglund redirected Backes' pass past Howard to give the Blues their first lead of the game at 4:30 of the second, but less than five minutes into the third, Zetterberg threaded a pass to Ericsson, who stopped the puck in the right circle,then fired a shot past Elliott (17 saves in relief of Jaroslav Halak) to tie the game at 3.
“The guys, I don't question their character whatsoever,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “But we just had to compete a little harder. We started real well, and then we got off-kilter a little bit, and then we really battled.”
NOTE: Babcock had no immediate update on Huskins after Friday's game. A Red Wings spokesperson said Huskins would be re-evaluated Friday night, and his status for today's game at Columbus will be determined this morning.
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade