Detroit Red Wings right wing Dan Cleary, center, is checked by Ottawa Senators defenseman Brian Lee (55) as his shot is deflected by Senators goalie Brian Elliott (30) during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010, in Detroit. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Carlos Osorio)
DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings were finally able to hold a lead.
Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and an assist, and Jimmy Howard made 29 saves to help the Red Wings beat the Ottawa Senators 4-1 on Saturday night in the last game before the Olympic break for both teams.
Kirk Maltby, Dan Cleary and Johan Franzen also scored for Detroit, which won for the first time in five games. The Red Wings have had trouble leads the past few weeks as they fight for a playoff spot.
"I thought it was important to get the two points," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "Where we're at in the standings, we're in desperate need of points."
"It was definitely a big win going into the break," he said. "Add to get ready for the stretch run."
The Senators didn't see any sign of a team that has problems holding leads.
"I don't know, but it seems like they're tough to come back against," Ottawa defenceman Brian Lee said. "They're strong defensively."
Peter Regin scored for Ottawa, and Brian Elliott stopped 36 shots. The Senators lost for only the second time in 15 games.
"They came out and they seemed like a hungry team," Senators forward Ryan Shannon said.
Detroit right-winger Tomas Holmstrom left in the first period because of a knee injury, leaving him questionable to play for Sweden in the Olympics.
Holmstrom missed 13 games in January because of a knee injury and returned for three games before sitting out Tuesday night in St. Louis. He returned Thursday night against San Jose, then left Saturday.
The team said it's not a new injury and Holmstrom would talk to Team Sweden coaches on Sunday.
"I'm hoping he's going to recover and play for Sweden," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who is also Team Canada's Olympic coach. "He'd be a huge part of their team. He's a huge part of our team with his emotion and net-front presence."
If he can't play in the Olympics, Holmstrom might be replaced by teammate Johan Franzen, who played his third game following surgery on his left knee.
Regin put Ottawa on the board 8:13 into the second period when he put in a rebound off a goal-mouth scramble for his ninth goal.
Cleary's power-play goal restored the Red Wings' two-goal lead with 8:51 left in the middle period. He converted Todd Bertuzzi's cross-crease pass for his 13th goal.
Franzen added an empty-net goal in the last minute.
Detroit led 2-0 after the first period.
Maltby opened the scoring 9:33 into the game when he backhanded in a rebound for his fourth goal.
It could have been Maltby's last game of the season. If defenceman Andreas Lilja - who hasn't played since last Feb. 28, due to post-concussion syndrome suffered in a fight with Nashville's Shea Weber - is cleared to play, the Red Wings must clear US$700,000 under the salary cap before he can be activated. Maltby could possibly go on the long-term Injured Reserve list because of a chronic right shoulder.
"I would be lying if I said it hasn't been on my mind," Maltby said. "But you've got to out there and do what you're supposed to."
Datsyuk's power-play goal made it 2-0 with 3:27 left in the opening period. He tipped in Nicklas Lidstrom's slap pass for his 17th goal.
NOTES: Detroit C Valtteri Filppula missed the game with a groin injury. Filppula still hopes to play for Finland in the Olympics. ... Red Wings D Niklas Kronwall returned after missing four games with a sore knee. He expects to play for Sweden in the Olympics. ... Detroit RW Patrick Eaves missed his third game with a sprained ankle. ... Lilja is back from a conditioning stint with the Red Wings' AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. ... The Olympic participants from each team were honoured in a ceremony before the game.