Detroit — The way they played this one Sunday, one almost wondered if Wayne Gretzky was still skating for the Oilers, Ronald Reagan was in the White House and folks were waiting for the fourth “Star Wars” movie.
“It looked like 1986, not 2016,” coach Jeff Blashill said after the Red Wings yielded five goals — including four on the first nine shots of the game — and managed to beat their divisional rivals, the Bruins, 6-5, in a significant game for the standings.
The Wings trailed the Bruins by a point, and jumped over them into second place in the Atlantic Division, one ahead of Boston and three behind the Panthers.
“It was an interesting game, obviously. Right off the bat, it was crazy,” Blashill said.
“I thought from a process standpoint we did some good stuff. But pucks just kept going in the net, both ways.
“We just stayed calm and kept plugging.”
The Bruins scored first, on their first shot. The Red Wings did the same.
Then the Bruins scored on their second shot.
The back-and-forth started feeling a bit like a game of ping-pong.
The Wings eventually got two goals apiece from Pavel Datsyuk (9, 10), Darren Helm (6, 7) and Henrik Zetterberg (11, 12).
Along the way, they came back from 1-0 and 3-1 deficits, and also blew a 5-3 lead.
The raucous nature of the affair almost shrouded a huge career milestone for Datsyuk. His first goal, on the power play at 14:46 of the first period, gave him 900 points for his career, on the Red Wings.
He joined Gordie Howe (1,809), Steve Yzerman (1,755), Alex Delvecchio (1,281), Nicklas Lidstrom (1,142) and Sergei Fedorov (954) as the only Red Wings with 900 points.
After the game, Datsyuk, who received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd in Joe Louis Arena, was understated.
“Thank you very much for congratulating me,” he said. “Yeah, for me, it’s a big milestone.
“But lots has happened.
“Lots of good players playing together, lots of helping and supporting and lots of teaching me, too.
“They give me advice. I appreciate all of them.”
But when asked about joining those half-dozen Wings, all of whom are in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Datsyuk was clearly affected.
“It’s a lot,” he said, swallowing hard. “But I hope I just keep skating, at least.”
Datsyuk also let folks in on something that might not be so secret, despite the terrific defensive play throughout his career.
He liked the wide-open offensive play!
“I thinks it’s really an entertainment,” he said. “For an afternoon game, everybody appreciates it, and takes the time to watch it on TV and comes to the arena to spend time.
“If it’s more like that, there’ll be more fans coming.”
The coaches almost certainly thought otherwise. It was pretty much all offense Sunday.
“It was a different one today,” said Zetterberg, who has three goals and four assists in five games since Blashill rejoined him with Datsyuk on a line with Justin Abdelkader. “But it was nice we found a way to get two points in the end.”
After two quick losses out of the gate from the All-Star break, which dropped them into a wild card position, one point above elimination from the playoffs, on February 5, the Red Wings went 4-0-1 on a five-game home stand.
Collecting nine of a possible 10 points, they lie second in the Atlantic Division, three points behind the Panthers and one ahead of the Bruins, with 26 games remaining in the season.
In addition to their two goals, Zetterberg and Datsyuk also each had an assist.
Datsyuk has five goals and four assists since joining Zetterberg and Abdelkader.
Abdelkader got two assists, and now has 17 on the season. Brad Richards also got two, and now has 13.
And Danny Dekeyser and Alexey Marchenko both contributed two assists, as the Wings defensemen continued their recent, strong scoring performances.
It was a bit of a tough 24th birthday for Petr Mrazek. Entering the game, he led the NHL in goals against average and save percentage, but allowed two goals on the first two shots and four on the first nine.
Asked if he considered removing Mrazek, Blashill revealed a moment during the game, at the Red Wings bench.
“You know, he came to the bench after the fourth and fifth (goals) and kind of looked at me and smiled,” the coach said. “And I looked at him and smiled.
“Because the one thing he has that I know is the ability to stay with things, and I thought he continued to battle right to the end.
“Petr plays the game to win. He doesn’t play for stats. He doesn’t play for anything pretty. He plays to win.
“And he found a way to win.”