His first season with the Red Wings, forward Pavel Datsyuk let his skill and smile make the introductions.

The Wings knew 10 years ago they had a special guy in Datsyuk, and he has never done anything to change that opinion.

With Henrik Zetterberg sidelined indefinitely by a second-degree left knee sprain, having a guy like Datsyuk is a huge balm. He put on a show of speed and vision to give the Wings a 1-0 lead over Phoenix entering Saturday's Game 2, scoring Wednesday on an opportunistic wraparound.

"He's a special player with a great work ethic, and his talents with and without the puck, people around these parts have seen it year in and year out," Danny Cleary said. "I think we should just all be thankful he's on our team."

Datsyuk came from Russia and won the Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2001-02, forming the "two kids and a goat" line with Boyd Devereaux and Brett Hull. Then, Datsyuk's English was so limited he made up for it with smiles and nods. These days, he often leaves teammates smiling.

"He makes a lot of jokes, especially in here in the room with the guys," Nicklas Lidstrom said. "He's a funny guy to be around, and I think he probably feels more comfortable now than he first did when he came into the league. He's one of the leaders in our locker room, an assistant captain. He brings a lot to our team, not only on the ice but off the ice."