Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard got the headlines after the Red Wings' improbable 4-3 victory in Game 5 late Sunday - and rightfully so. Datsyuk set up three goals, and Howard's brilliance was the reason the Detroit was in the game after two periods.

But perhaps the most important performance belonged to center Henrik Zetterberg.

"I thought he was great," coach Mike Babcock said.

Zetterberg was a plus-2 with an assist - and that's the least of his contributions. With Datsyuk unable or unwilling to take faceoffs, Zetterberg stepped in and won 16 of 25. More importantly, he helped kill four critical penalties, three in the second period and one late in the third, by consistently winning defensive zone faceoffs.

His ability to win his matchup against Sharks captain Joe Thornton the last two games has helped vault the Red Wings back into the series. Zetterberg had three assists and is a plus-4 in the two victories; Thornton has been kept off the score sheet and is a minus-2.

"He's doing what we expect from him," Red Wings captain Nick Lidstrom said. "He's so good, whether it's winning faceoffs in his own zone or hanging on to the puck in the offensive zone and making plays. He seems to be playing better and better coming off that (lower body) injury that kept him out (against Phoenix). You can tell he's getting better and better."

Zetterberg made arguably one of the best individual plays of this series in Game 3, a play that was overshadowed and rendered irrelevant by the Red Wings' 4-3 overtime loss.

In a furious scramble around the Sharks net, Zetterberg came up with the puck as he was spinning counter-clockwise away from goaltender Antti Niemi. Somehow, in the midst of all the chaos, he either heard or felt Lidstrom driving for the net - he couldn't possibly have seen him - and he slipped him a deft behind-the-back pass for a goal.

It was brilliant and almost immediately forgotten, which seems to happen a lot with Zetterberg. He might be one of the least celebrated elite players in the NHL, and that seems to be fine with him.