MONTREAL (AP)—When Pavel Datsyuk got the puck on his stick Tuesday night, his only thought was to shoot it.
That mind-set paid off for the Detroit center as Datsyuk scored two unassisted goals off turnovers to lead the Red Wings to a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Datsyuk’s second goal of the game and 11th of the season came midway through the second to restore Detroit’s one-goal lead at 2-1. He also scored 16:40 in.
“Before my goal, we had good chances and we didn’t score,” said Datsyuk, who has scored seven times over the course of a five-game goals streak. “Every shot is dangerous.”
Detroit, first overall in the NHL with a 19-6-2 record, outshot Montreal 34-16 overall, including a 16-5 margin in the second.
Christopher Higgins scored his 11th goal for Montreal, which has lost three straight and five of six.
“If you look at the first 15 games that we played, we played as a team,” Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. “We made the plays when the players were there, we stayed fresh on the ice, our passes were crisp, we received the pass well, if we had no play we put it in somewhere—we looked like a fast team. Now, because the confidence is not there, there’s a lot of hesitation in our game.”
Canadiens rookie Carey Price stopped 30 shots.
While Carbonneau said he needed a stronger performance from his goalies than he has been getting recently, he went even farther with defenseman Andrei Markov, who currently leads Eastern Conference defensemen in All-Star voting.
“Maybe he sees himself at the All-Star game too quick,” Carbonneau said. “I don’t think he’s injured but his play on the ice is not where it should be. We’ve talked to him about it. We need him to get back to where he was earlier in the year. We need him to be our best defenseman and right now he’s not.”
Hockey legend Gordie Howe was accompanied by Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Marcel Pronovost and Marcel Dionne as the Canadiens honored their long-standing rivalry with Detroit in a pre-game ceremony.
Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore, Jean-Guy Talbot, Stephane Richer and Claude Lemieux represented Montreal, which celebrates its centennial in 2009.
Current Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios, who began his career with Montreal in 1983-84, also took part in the ceremony along with Carbonneau.
The 45-year-old Chelios was given a standing ovation by the sold-out crowd of 21,273 when he was announced as the third star following the game.
“I don’t know about the star thing, I think it might have been to help me go out there and say goodbye,” said Chelios, who has no plans to retire. “It was nice of them. I had the intention of going out there anyway, whether I had gotten that or not, so it worked out perfectly. It was a great evening for our team and for myself and I can’t thank enough what the Montreal Canadiens, my teammates and the fans have done for me here, teaching me what this game is all about.”
Datsyuk intercepted Montreal forward Steve Begin’s pass in the Canadiens’ zone to set up the game’s first goal. The Russian center moved to the slot before putting a shot past Price at 16:40.
Higgins tied it 4:15 into the second when he put a backhand over Hasek.
Datsyuk took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone and beat Price with a wrist shot inside the left post at 11:08 to restore Detroit’s lead.
Kronvall made it 3-1 at 13:45 with a slap shot past Price from the point.
Zetterberg increased the lead to three with his 18th goal on a power play 13:50 into the third period, shortly after Canadiens right wing Mathieu Dandenault jumped Detroit’s Mikael Samuelsson from behind as he interrupted a skirmish involving Montreal captain Saku Koivu at 13:25.
Dandenault was given a charging penalty and a game misconduct for being the third player involved in a fight.
“It would have been O.K. if Samuelsson saw him, that would have been fine, but coming from behind there, injuries can develop from that,” Zetterberg said.
Chelios and Carbonneau were Canadiens co-captains during the 1989-90 season after current Montreal GM Bob Gainey retired. … With G Cristobal Huet sidelined by a groin injury, Jaroslav Halak, who was recalled from Hamilton of the AHL on Monday, dressed for the first time this season as Price’s backup. … Price stickhandled the puck alone in his zone in the aftermath of the third-period scrum, shooting the puck into his net at one point.