TORONTO – Henrik Zetterberg got his 300th NHL goal in unconventional fashion, hitting the milestone on an important night.
After fellow Swede and former Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff as part of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s induction weekend, Zetterberg became just the fifth player in franchise history to put up 300 goals and 500 assists.
Zetterberg joined Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov in that exclusive Red Wings club.
“When you retire looking back you might think, ‘Yeah it means a lot,”‘ Zetterberg said. “Obviously it’s fun to reach these numbers.”
“I couldn’t have done it without the players that’s been surrounding me for all these years. Without them I would not be close.”
Fedorov was at Air Canada Centre Friday night along with Lidstrom and the rest of the Hall of Fame’s class of 2015 to see Zetterberg score as the Red Wings beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in overtime.
Jakub Kindl scored the OT winner, but Zetterberg’s goal will be shown on blooper reels for a while.
From just inside the blue line, Zetterberg flicked an innocent shot toward the goal late in the first period. The puck went off goaltender James Reimer’s right pad and trickled into the net.
“I think I will remember this one,” Zetterberg said with a smile. “I just tried to get it on net there. To be honest I don’t really know it went in.”
Zetterberg barely celebrated the goal, which could go down as one of the flukiest of his 13-season career.
The 35-year-old said after the morning skate that he really wanted to hit No. 300 in the Hall of Fame game with so much of the focus on the Red Wings’ recent past.
“We’ve marked this day on the calendar for a while and (were) looking forward to this game. Having Nick and Sergei here and being a little bit a part of their weekend, it’s special.”
In addition to winning the Stanley Cup with Lidstrom in 2008, he and Zetterberg won a gold medal with Sweden at the 2006 Olympics. That connection still means a lot to Zetterberg.
“When I came over (to North America in 2002), Nick was a huge help for me,” he said. “It was just Nick and (Tomas) Holmstrom was the Swedes on the team. … Obviously he’s a big part of my career and a big part of what kind of person I am.
Even though his team lost a tough game, Leafs coach Mike Babcock could appreciate a big night for Zetterberg, his former captain in Detroit.
“He’s a great human being, he’s a great, great pro, knows how to play, is strong on the puck, makes his teammates better,” Babcock said. “He’s just a guy you want to be around. He’s been a real good captain there ever since Nick left. He likes hockey. You couldn’t ask more from a captain.”