Henrik Zetterberg's natural hat trick was the difference in the Red Wings' 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. All three goals came in the third period, and on a night when every fan in attendance at Joe Louis Arena received a 3x5-foot Zetterberg flag, he netted his third career hat trick, and tied his season-best for goals at 39.
The Red Wings (48-20-6) improve to 3-2-1 in their season series against the Jackets, who are struggling to make their first playoff appearance in franchise history.
Playing for a second straight night, Columbus (33-30-11) is now 3-4-2 on the back-end of back-to-back games this season.
Zetterberg (first goal) put the Wings on the scoresheet when he took a pass from Brian Rafalski, sped through the neutral zone, split a pair of Columbus defenders, and released a backhand shot by goalie Fredrik Norrena, tying the score at 6:43 of the final period.
The goal sparked another scoring chance for Detroit when Pavel Datsyuk's wrap-around pass to Mikael Samuelsson led to a shot that was blocked low by Norrena.
"Hank came up real big for us," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "A great individual effort on that first goal to get us back in the game and finally the power play had a goal too. We had some chances, but he finally capitalized on one."
Zetterberg's scoring flurry was much needed for the Swede All-Star, who last scored a goal Feb. 29 vs. San Jose.
"He hadn't been scoring at the same rate as he normally does here lately," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "So it was good to see him get that one for us, and then get a couple more to solidify the win."
Zetterberg's (second goal) next goal came on a Wings' fifth and final power play. He took a pass from Datsyuk, giving the Wings a 2-1 lead with 1:54 left.
Zetterberg, who now has 83-points on the season, finished the scoring (third goal) when he intercepted a Columbus pass and cruised into the offensive zone where deked Norrena and banked a shot into an open net.
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