Every new milestone only seems to remind Steve Yzerman how much older he's getting.
"I think everybody kind of feels that," said Yzerman, who had a goal and recorded his 900th assist in the Detroit Red Wings' 7-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night. "(Wayne) Gretzky probably did it in seven years, Mario (Lemieux) did it in 10 years, the rest of us, the numbers just kind of slowly add up. Those guys did it the right way."
The 34-year-old Yzerman became the 10th NHL player to reach the 900-assist plateau, and his goal was the 599th of his career. The two points upped his career total to 1,499, eighth on the all-time list. With his next goal, Yzerman will become only the fifth player ever to have 600 or more goals and 900 or more assists.
The way Yzerman played, finishing with a team-high nine shots on net including two breakaways on which he failed to score, he could've added to his total.
"I don't worry too much about it," he said. "If they go in, they go in."
Not that the Red Wings needed any more scoring in extending their unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1).
Rolling to a 4-0 lead, Detroit put the game away with three third period goals.
Steve Duchesne set up three goals while Brendan Shanahan, Martin Lapointe and Stacey Roest each had a goal and assist. Marc Rodgers, Sergei Fedorov and Yuri Butsayev also scored for Detroit, which improved to 12-4-3 and moved into a tie for top spot in the overall NHL standings with the idle Los Angeles Kings.
The Canucks, who allowed seven goals for the first time since April 2, had a three-game unbeaten streak (1-0-2) snapped.
The game's turning point came late in the second period when Vancouver's Alexander Mogilny thought he made it 4-3. Replays were inconclusive, showing only that the puck struck both posts.
Any hopes of a Canuck comeback ended when Fedorov sparked a three-goal third period outburst, scoring 15 seconds into the frame to give the Wings a 5-2 edge.
"The goal by Sergei was the one, it restores the three-goal (lead)," said Wings' coach Scotty Bowman. "You play a lot different with three goals then you do with one or two."
Vancouver coach Marc Crawford said the result showed how much further his team still has to go.
"This team is still learning. We know we're still learning because we served a lesson tonight by the Red Wings," said Crawford. "They do that when you're not right on top of your game."
Red Wings' forward Tomas Holmstrom, who was playing his team-leading 111th straight game, went down with an injured left leg when he was checked into the boards late in the first period by Vancouver's Donald Brashear. Holmstrom required help leaving the ice and did not return, suffering a bruised leg.
After the game, Holmstrom said his leg was stiffening up and that he may have suffered a slight knee sprain.
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