With no Pavel Datsyuk and no Nicklas Lidstrom, the Detroit Red Wings weren't their usual star-filled selves. Thanks to Henrik Zetterberg and Joey MacDonald, they were still good enough to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Zetterberg scored the go-ahead goal 8:28 into the third period and MacDonald made 28 saves as the depleted Wings rallied for a 5-2 victory against the Jackets at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
Datsyuk is sidelined after undergoing knee surgery last week, and Lidstrom missed the game with an ankle injury suffered on Saturday. Add in the fact that the Wings had lost three in a row, and this was a game the Wings felt they had to have.
"We really needed a win," Zetterberg said. "We had a few bodies out. The guys that came out did a really good job."
MacDonald, giving starter Jimmy Howard a night off, kept his team in the game until the offense got rolling.
"We battled back and tied the game, and then after that we kind of took over," MacDonald said after improving to 7-1-1 this season. "We got that third goal (from Zetterberg), a bad-angle one, and that's kind of how it goes."
Columbus broke a 1-1 tie at 2:13 of the third period when Derek MacKenzie took advantage of a mix-up in the neutral zone, raced past the defense and beat MacDonald for his first goal in 18 games. But 90 seconds later, Niklas Kronwall scored on what appeared to be a harmless power-play shot -- he skated through the left circle and let go a backhander through traffic beat goalie Curtis Sanford for his 13th of the season.
"That was huge, obviously," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "Kronner responded right away for us, which is really important. We answered back."
MacDonald preserved the tie with a nice poke check and then denying a wide-open Ryan Russell with his left pad on another shorthanded attempt with the score tied at 2.
“Whenever I get the opportunity I just got to show that they made the right decision to (keep me) here," MacDonald said. “Give the team a chance to win. In the second period they had some good chances. Just kind of hold the fort and go from there."
Zetterberg put the Wings ahead to star with a hard wrister from past the goal line near the left corner that slipped inside the near post behind Sanford for his 14th goal.
"I came in on a (odd-man) rush, and I couldn't really find a passing lane," Zetterberg said. "So there was a spot open there halfway up (the net), and I was lucky it went in."
That goal appeared to take some of the air out of the Jackets, and the Wings poured it on.
Jan Mursak scored his first of the season and second of his NHL career, spinning in the slot to score on a rebound at 9:15. Valtteri Filppula beat Sanford on a rebound with 6:08 left to complete the scoring.
"They're a dangerous team. They know how to play the game. They play the right way," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "Their core guys have been together a long time. They have an identity the way they play. When they smell blood, they seem to kick it up."
Johan Franzen had a goal and two assists, and Zetterberg, Kronwall and Filppula each had an assist to go with their goals.
A visit to Columbus was just the tonic for the Wings after they went 0-2-1 in their previous three games. Detroit is 48-12-1-6 all-time against the Jackets, including 22-7-1-4 at Nationwide Arena.
Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash, who was on the block but not traded before Monday's NHL deadline, scored his 22nd goal to tie the game at 1-1. He has goals in back-to-back games and four in the Jackets' last five contests.
Nash has been the primary topic of discussion all week in Columbus after it was revealed by GM Scott Howson on Monday that he had asked to be traded. When Nash was introduced before the game, fans responded with mostly cheers.
"It was great. I'm honored. Like I said before, me and these fans have been through a lot," Nash said of the warm reception. "It honestly meant the world to me to hear that. I didn't know what to expect, but the fans are the classiest, most patient fans we have. I'm so impressed by them and so thankful."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report