Dan Cleary’s first career hat trick helped lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 7-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night in a see-saw matchup between the Central Division foes.
The third meeting in the last eleven days between the two teams saw the Red Wings score the first three goals before Columbus countered with four of their own. Detroit then answered with four more to retake the lead as the game closed.
Cleary’s third of the game was the game-winner for Detroit, came with the Red Wings on the power play and 5:19 remaining in the game. Robert Lang, who assisted on all of Cleary’s goals, rifled a shot from the left circle that was deflectd by a Columbus defender before being knocked out of the air and past goalie Fredrik Norrena by Cleary.
Detroit had tied the game 3:17 earlier on a strong individual effort by Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk held the puck in the Columbus zone at the right point on an attempted clear by the Blue Jackets, then carried along the blue line and down through the left circle – weaving around defenders the whole way – before lifting a shot into the top of the net.
In the final two minutes of play, Datsuk added a second goal and Danny Markov scored into the empty net to close out the scoring.
Cleary had opened the game’s scoring 4:21 into the opening period, setting what was then a new career high with his 15th goal of the season. He would add to that total with 4:00 remaining in the first to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead.
Henrik Zetterberg stretched Detroit’s lead to three goals at 8:45 of the second before the Blue Jackets took over.
Ron Hainsey scored a near-side goal from the left circle to get Columbus on the board with 7:28 left in the middle period and David Vyborny added another 1:28 later, stealing the puck from Nicklas Lidstrom before moving in alone on goalie Chris Osgood and outwaiting him.
A pair of early third-period power plays put the Blue Jackets out in front, with Dan Fritsche picking off a clearing attempt by Niklas Kronwall and firing it past Osgood at 3:15 and Adam Foote scoring on a blast from the blue line 2:02 later.
Osgood finished the night with stops 21 on 25 shots against, while Norrena made 29 saves on 35 shots.
Detroit had three chances on the power play, scoring only once. Columbus had four tries and picked up two goals.
The Red Wings’ next game is Sunday night when they host the Los Angeles Kings in Detroit’s annual New Year’s Eve game.