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 DETROIT 7, COLUMBUS 4: Wings don't fold vs. Jackets 
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Post DETROIT 7, COLUMBUS 4: Wings don't fold vs. Jackets
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DETROIT 7, COLUMBUS 4: Wings don't fold vs. Jackets
Cleary gets first NHL hat trick


BY GEORGE SIPPLE
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Red Wings surrendered four consecutive goals against the Columbus Blue Jackets over the final two periods Thursday night and still managed to leave Nationwide Arena with a victory.

The Wings scored four goals in the third period to beat the Blue Jackets, 7-4.

"Things were going bad, and it would have been easy for us to fold, but we didn't," said Wings coach Mike Babcock. "We scored and got it started, and we went from there. In the third period we decided that we weren't going to lose."

Pavel Datsyuk tied the game at 4-all at 11:24 of the third with a high wrist shot from the left circle, and Dan Cleary scored the game-winner on a tip-in at 14:41 for his third goal of the game.

That power-play goal, his 17th goal of the season, gave Cleary the first hat trick of his NHL career. His first goal of the game pushed him past his previous career high for goals in a season. His previous high was 14 goals for the Edmonton Oilers in 2000-01.

Robert Lang, who missed the final two periods of Wednesday's 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild with a stomach flu, assisted on all three of Cleary's goals.

"Robert Lang has had a huge impact on me," Cleary said. "Keeps getting me the puck all the time."

Babcock said he was happy for Cleary.

"It is nice to see good things happen to him," Babcock said. "He now has 17 goals. ... He was great in training camp, and he kept going and going. Our philosophy is that if you're playing well, you're going to get to play."

As well as Cleary played, Babcock said Datsyuk was the difference in the game. "Let's face it: In the third period, Pav decided we weren't going to lose," Babcock said.

After scoring the tying goal, Datsyuk scored at 18:15 to give the Wings a two-goal cushion. He threw the puck out from behind the net and it banked in off goaltender Fredrik Norrena. Defenseman Danny Markov finished the scoring with an empty-net goal at 18:37.

"We didn't panic," said Cleary, who scored two first-period goals to give the Wings a 2-0 lead. "We just kept pushing, stayed with it.

"Give credit to them for sticking with it. On our side of it, I just think we got a little bit careless with the puck and took a few penalties."

The Wings surrendered a 3-0 lead after the Blue Jackets got a pair of even-strength goals in the second period by Ron Hainsey and David Vyborny and a pair of power-play goals early in the third period by Dan Fritsche and Adam Foote.

Datsyuk (two goals, one assist), Cleary (three goals) and Lang (three assists) each had three points, and Henrik Zetterberg (goal, assist), Brett Lebda (two assists) and Markov (goal, assist) had two points apiece for the Wings.

Chris Osgood finished with 21 saves for the Wings. Norrena made 29 saves for the Blue Jackets.

Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.

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December 29th, 2006, 2:53 pm
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