Lockout did wonders for Zetterberg

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

For Henrik Zetterberg a year away from NHL hockey did wonders for his game.

The Detroit Red Wings winger came back twice as good.

Yesterday, Zetterberg scored a goal, set up another, then notched the winner in the shootout as the Wings defeated the Oilers 4-3.

The goal increased his total to 35 on the year, nearly as many as he had in his first two seasons with the club prior to last year's lockout.

"The big difference for kids like him and (Pavel) Datsyuk, is the year off. That's basically two years to get as good as they are," said Wings head coach Mike Babcock.

"They're dominant players. We have good players on this team. I didn't think we were flying at all tonight, but we found a way to hang in there and we found a way to get it done."

THREE POINTS BACK

With his two points in regulation, Zetterberg sits three points back of Datsyuk in team scoring. But with 35 goals, Zetterberg is the team's leading goal getter. It's hard to believe he was the Wings' fourth choice (210th overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

"Things are going well for me this year. I just happen to be in the right spot at the right time," Zetterberg said. "The goal I scored (yesterday) I was just in the right place.

''So there's a little bit of luck to it, and of course playing with great players helps."

Zetterberg's first-period goal was fortunate. The 25-year-old Swede took a rebound off the end boards and slid the puck into an open net.

Zetterberg then set Chris Chelios in all alone in the second period as the Wings defenceman was coming out of the penalty box. Chelios faked a shot then slid the puck past Dwayne Roloson to tie the game.

PLAYING HARD

"It was a tough game for us," Zetterberg said.

"They were playing hard and skating well and it was good for us to come out with the win."

In the shootout, Zetterberg put a great move on Roloson to give the Wings their two points.

With the win, the Wings kept pace with the Nashville Predators - who pounded the Calgary Flames yesterday - in the Western Conference Central Division standings.

"It's fun when it goes to that, and I'm 50-50 when I go to a shootout, so I'm glad I scored," Zetterberg said.

"The Oilers made us work hard and kept us away from the net, so it was important for us to win this game."

The win also improves the Wings record to 7-1 in March.


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