In their last game of the 2003 calendar year, the Detroit Red Wings claimed a 6-5 overtime win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Henrik Zetterberg's second goal and third point of the game gave the Wings the victory.
Zetterberg scored after taking a cross-ice pass from Ray Whitney while streaking down the left side of the ice. He one-timed the puck over Thrashers' goaltender Pasi Nurminen's shoulder, off the post, and into the net 2:24 into the overtime frame.
The Thrashers forced overtime with a fluke goal with 7:02 remaining in the third period. Daniel Tjarnqvist threw the puck from the left point to the right side of the Detroit goal. The puck deflected off of the stick of Pavel Datsyuk and was redirected by Jiri Fischer's leg before bouncing past Detroit goalie Curtis Joseph's skate.
After a scoreless first period, Detroit opened the scoring just 32 seconds into the second. Mathieu Schneider put a rebound of his own shot past Nurminen to give the Wings a one goal lead.
Just 1:32 later, Tomas Holmstrom put the rebound of a Pavel Datsyuk shot past Nurminen to put the Red Wings up by two goals. The Thrashers cut Detroit's lead back to on goal 1:34 later as former Red Wing Vyacheslav Kozlov fired a shot past the heavily screened Joseph.
Whitney put Detroit back up by two goals at the 8:31 mark of the second, one-timing a shot from the side of the net to score his third goal in six games since returning from injury.
The Thrashers scored three straight to take their only lead of the game. With 8:53 remaining in the second, Ronald Petrovicky beat Joseph, unintentionally kicking the puck by the Detroit netminder. Zdenek Blatny scored his first NHL goal 4:39 later, picking up the rebound from a shot by Ilya Kovalchuk on a two-on-one. Kovalchuk put the Thrashers up by a goal 1:41 into the third period, cutting around a falling Jason Woolley and rifling a shot past Joseph.
Zetterberg's first goal of the night pulled Detroit back into a tie 4:04 later. Pavel Datsyuk dropped the puck to Zetterberg skating through the slot on the power play and Zetterberg one-timed it into the net.
Brendan Shanahan scored 8:31 into the third to give the Wings a 5-4 lead before Atlanta tied it.
Atlanta's Kovalchuk scored three points to take over the NHL scoring lead, while Datsyuk's two points lifted him into a tie for second.
Joseph stopped 22 of the 27 shots he faced, while Nurminen made 38 saves on 44 shots.
The Red Wings will play their first game of the 2004 calendar year on Friday when they play in Carolina.
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