It had been 107 games since Henrik Zetterberg had the last Detroit Red Wings hat trick. And with two goals already on the scoresheet, an empty net in front of him, and time running down, there was a question as to whether Zetterberg could get the puck in the net before the green light would come on.
He beat the clock by 0.7 seconds, bringing the curtain down on a wild third period and summoning chapeaus from the spectators.
Detroit defeated the Anaheim Ducks 7-4 in a game that saw a mild first two periods turn into an old school NHL shootout, with the teams combining for eight goals in the third period. Zetterberg finished the night with five points, extending his team lead with 22.
The Ducks, who looked sloppy coming in after their 3-2 shootout loss in Columbus last night, found their sea legs in the second period and put the pressure on with three goals in the third, each one to tie the game. On a night where Ryan Getzlaf would extend his franchise record assist streak to 10 games with three assists to go with his second goal of the season, they just couldn't find the goal to put them over the top.
For the first time in three nights, Jimmy Howard looked shaky, giving up four goals, a couple of which were shots that had him stewing afterwards. But he would be bailed out by an offense that has scored 19 goals in three nights.
The Red Wings jumped out to an early lead on a pair of power-play goals as Dan Cleary had a Niklas Kronwall shot deflect off his glove while Teemu Selane sat in the box, followed by a Brian Rafalski attempted pass to Tomas Holmstrom that misfired and turned into a knuckler that beat Jonas Hiller. That power play came after Ryan Getzlaf received minors for cross checking and unsportsmanlike conduct in a scuffle that featured Corey Perry and Jonathan Ericsson nearly coming to blows, stopped only by Ericsson's helmet failing to come off.
Anaheim scored the lone goal of the second period after Ericsson attempted an ill-advised clear straight up the middle. Getzlaf made the pass to Corey Perry, who easily beat Howard.
Then came the third period. This time it was a poor Howard clearing attempt that would up on Bobby Ryan's stick, wh put it in the back of the net. Ninety seconds later, Rafalski set up Pavel Datsuyk with a shot that Datsuyk simply had to deflect into the net and went top shelf. Just over a minute after that, Joffrey Lupul's shot went through Todd Bertuzzi's legs and past Howard to knot it up at three.
The Henrik Zetterberg show began as Dan Cleary set up a backhander to make it 4-3. With the Red Wings down two men after a Zetterberg penalty and a too-many-men-on-the-ice call, Getzlaf shot the puck under the right arm of Howard to tie the game at four. Cleary set up Zetterberg 62 seconds later who fired a knuckler that handcuffed Hiller to make it 5-4. Two minutes after that, Darren Helm got onto the score sheet, firing a 30-footer that hit Hiller in the left arm, then slowly dribbled into the net to make it a two-goal lead.
Hiller was pulled with 70 seconds remaining, but it would serve no help to the Ducks, as Zetterberg sent the hats onto the ice.
The Wings continue their homestand with Dallas coming to town on Wednesday night.
Player of the game: Henrik Zetterberg. Scoring the first hat trick in 107 games? Five points on the night? Yeah, I think The Mule is on a roll.
Check out the game highlights below.