WASHINGTON (AP)—One of Pavel Datsyuk’s goals was a fluke. The rest of his season sure isn’t.
“It’s not by accident,” teammate Brett Hull said. “He’s a wonderful, wonderful player.”
Datsyuk, who has already surpassed his career high in goals, got his 16th when Washington’s Jason Doig diverted Datsyuk’s crossing pass into the open side of the net. Datsyuk also assisted on goals by Kris Draper and Brendan Shanahan and drew the assignment of shadowing Jaromir Jagr most of the game.
To cap off the night, the 25-year-old Russian, who was scoring on an NHL-high 28.3 percent of his shots, scored a more conventional goal with a late slap shot, prompting some encouragement from Hull on the bench.
“I told him, `Don’t get satisfied. Keep working. You could lead this league in scoring,”’ Hull said.
Said Datsyuk, the NHL scoring leader with 37 points: “I really appreciate his support. I’m a young player, and I need the help.”
Jagr got around Datsyuk once to score the game’s first goal, but otherwise the Capitals managed only 19 shots in Glen Hanlon’s second game as Washington coach. Despite the margin of defeat, the Capitals didn’t sag after falling behind as they had in recent games.
“It’s very tough to come back against Detroit, but it’s going to be a long process. It’s not going to change overnight,” Jagr said. “You can always take positive steps from the loss. Hopefully, we’re going to be OK.”
The Capitals won Hanlon’s debut on Thursday, one day after he was promoted from assistant coach following Bruce Cassidy’s firing.
“It was still an enjoyable night,” Hanlon said. “When I took the job, I said everyone’s going to be sick of the word `process.’ Even with five minutes to go, I kept trying to tell the players that we’ve got about 150 periods before April comes around, and every single minute counts. Let’s keep proving to everybody what we’re all about.”
The Red Wings have won seven of 10, scoring 46 goals over that span despite the absence of nine injured regulars. Datsyuk, Shanahan, Draper and Hull are among those who have picked up the slack.
Hull had two assists and a very embarrassment moment when he failed to get off a shot on a penalty shot, losing control of the puck as he tried to deke goaltender Olaf Kolzig.
“I lost it,” said Hull, 0-for-5 on NHL penalty shots. “I could have dumped it in the stands. He knew what I was doing before I knew what I was doing.”
Hull’s miss in the second period kept the score at 3-1, but Jason Williams made it a three-goal lead in the third period with his second goal of the season.
Jagr opened the scoring with a slick approach from the left, skating around Datsyuk and lifting the puck just inside the far post. It was Jagr’s 12th goal, and he has points in 17 of 19 games.
The Red Wings tied it 18 seconds later on Draper’s 13th goal, a drive from the left circle to the stick side of Kolzig. Detroit outshot Washington 12-4 in the first period.
The Red Wings took the lead for good one second after Jagr’s tripping penalty expired in the second period. The puck quickly moved from Hull toDatsyuk to Shanahan for the easy shot.
Jagr elaborated on an interview with The Washington Times in which he said he didn’t want to be traded, despite persistent rumors that the Capitals have been shopping him for eight months. “I never asked for the trade,” Jagr said. “I never did want to be traded. That’s the bottom line.” … The last two Capitals games have included a penalty shot. Dainius Zubrus scored against Boston on Thursday. … Hull needs one point to reach 1,300 in the NHL. … Thegame was a sellout, Washington’s first of the season.