Zetterberg scored twice, including a go-ahead goal early in the third period that was the 100th of his career, to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night. "He doesn't get enough credit for being the elite player that he is," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "He's definitely in that group of players.
"Unfortunately for us, we have to face him too many times."
Zetterberg smiled when Gretzky's comments were relayed.
"He's the best player we've ever had and when he says stuff like that, it makes you happy," said Zetterberg, who is in his fourth NHL season.
Robert Lang and Pavel Datsyuk also scored and Dominik Hasek had 20 saves for Detroit, which has won five straight to pull within a point of Central Division-leading Nashville.
The Red Wings have won 11 in a row at home - matching their longest winning streak in three years - and are 20-3-3 overall at Joe Louis Arena.
"It makes it easier to come to the rink," Zetterberg said. "We've been working really hard and that's why we're having success."
Owen Nolan and Shane Doan scored for Phoenix, which has lost four of six games.
"We didn't have enough of our players show up," Gretzky said. "It seems like the same five or six guys keep coming to play, then we have too many passengers.
"They deserved to win, and we deserved what we got."
Curtis Joseph stopped 44 shots to give the Coyotes a chance against one of his former teams.
"We didn't deserve to be in that game," Doan said. "They outplayed us for pretty much the whole game, but we had an incredible goaltender.
"Whenever you get that type of goaltending, you should expect to win the game because it's such an advantage. We let 'Cuj' down."
Phoenix had a 4-on-3 power play with just under six minutes left, but failed to put much pressure on Hasek. Datsyuk scored on an empty net in the final minute to seal the win.
"We weren't wonderful by any means," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
Midway through the first period, Nolan put Phoenix ahead with a backhander over a sprawled-out Hasek on a goalmouth scramble. Lang's goal early in the second period ended Joseph's shutout streak of 124-plus minutes - just over two games.
Zetterberg's first goal made it 2-1 late in the second, and was a highlight-worthy play. He carried the puck along the right boards, swooped behind the net and hesitated just long enough for Joseph to go low so that he could go high on the wraparound shot.
His second goal went off a Phoenix player, but that didn't diminish it.
"The important stuff is to just get it in the net," he said after scoring a goal in his fourth straight game and contributing a point in his 13th consecutive home game.
Doan scored a power-play goal with 16.6 seconds left in the second period before the Red Wings dominated the final period as they have all season.
Zetterberg and Datsyuk scored in the final period - and Hasek didn't give up a goal - giving Detroit a 69-37 edge in third-period goals this season.
Notes: Detroit last won 11 straight at home from Feb. 20-April 3, 2003. ... Joseph (442) and Hasek (354) are third and fourth, respectively, among the winningest active goalies. ... Joseph is five wins away from tying former Red Wing Terry Sawchuk for fourth on the all-time list. ... Joseph signed with Phoenix on Aug. 17, 2005, following the lockout and two seasons in Detroit. ... The Coyotes were 11-2 when leading after the first period. ... Lang has scored in consecutive games after being held scoreless in his previous seven games. "You don't worry about him, but we need him," Babcock said. ... Phoenix scored on the power play after going 0-for-15 in its previous four games. ... The Motor City faithful booed a Toyota truck during the first intermission as part of an on-ice advertisement. ... Gretzky is 61-64-7 in two seasons behind the bench.