Maybe that Olympic break came at just the right time for the Red Wings.

It certainly appears to have helped Johan Franzen.

Something definitely helped, considering the way the Red Wings looked the last two games, including Thursday’s resounding 6-1 victory in Ottawa, with Franzen getting a hat trick.

Coupled with an overtime win in Montreal the night before, it was a successful way for the Red Wings to begin a post-Olympic push to the playoffs.

"Our goalie (Jonas Gustavsson) was very good; we weren't that great but we scored goals," coach Mike Babcock said. "We were much better last night (against Montreal). But in the end, you have to outscore the other team. The power play and Mule were very good and we got a big lead."

With the victories, the Red Wings (28-20-12, 68 points) have opened a five-point lead on Ottawa (26-23-11, 63 points) for the final wild-card spot.

"You start 2-0, it's better than the opposite way and you're chasing," Babcock said. "We know we're in a battle for our playoff life. We understand that. So getting off to a good start is imperative for us."

There's something about playing here in Canada's capital that appeals to Franzen. On top of his three-goal night Thursday, Franzen scored five goals in this arena on Feb. 2, 2011, in a Red Wings victory.

And if you take it back to the last four games in this building, Franzen has a mind-boggling 11 goals.

Franzen had two assists in Wednesday's victory in Montreal, giving him five points in the last two games.

"Who knows?" Franzen said when he was asked why he's so successful in Ottawa. "I like playing here. Eric Karlsson (the Ottawa all-star defenseman) plays here and we grew up in the same small town together (in Sweden). It's fun to come in here and play against him. It's always special."

Franzen had to withstand a late confrontation with Ottawa enforcer Chris Neil, who tried to goad Franzen into a fight.