PITTSBURGH - Mike Babcock knew what awaited Marian Hossa in Pittsburgh, so the Detroit coach decided to use some reverse psychology on his star forward.
Aware the fans would boo - and loudly - a player who turned down a huge contract from Pittsburgh to sign a one-year deal with Detroit, Babcock told Hossa, "They'll be cheering for you like crazy."
Uhh, not exactly. Hossa was booed whenever he stepped on the ice, drew chants of "Traitor! Traitor!" and was subjected to several non-flattering signs.
Motivated by the negative reaction in a city where he was cheered loudly last spring, Hossa scored midway through the third period, and Pavel Datsyuk had two goals in the Red Wings' 3-0 victory Sunday.
Babcock never doubted Hossa would be ready for the crowd reaction, saying, "You worry about the guys that aren't mentally strong."
Hossa's subtle message to Penguins rooters: Silence is golden.
"These are great hockey fans, and they show you their emotions," Hossa said. "Once or twice in your career you've got these games, so basically you try to enjoy it because this doesn't happen often. You try to use their energy to your advantage."
With Detroit leading 1-0 in the third, Hossa created a goal by himself, skating away from Jordan Staal to put a backhander on net from the slot. Three defenders between Hossa and the net couldn't stop him from scoring his 30th goal.
When the puck got by Marc-Andre Fleury, it was quiet enough in Mellon Arena to hear the Penguins drop a valuable couple of points in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
"I guess we expected them to boo him a little bit but, man, that was vicious at times," said Red Wings goalie Ty Conklin, another former Pittsburgh player who turned aside all 25 shots in his sixth shutout of the season.
Hossa's goal was the same kind he scored so often for the Penguins during their Stanley Cup run last year, when he had 12 goals and 14 assists in 20 games before they were eliminated in the sixth game of the finals by ... yes, Detroit.
Hossa baffled management and angered fans by turning down an estimated $49 million, long-term deal with Pittsburgh to sign with Detroit.
"Lots of people think it could be a gamble, but it was my feeling at the time to decide to come here and it's worked out so far," Hossa said. "It's been great."
While Detroit (35-11-7) leads the Central Division and is second behind San Jose in the Western Conference, Pittsburgh (26-24-5) is two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
FLYERS 3, THRASHERS 2 - In Atlanta, Jeff Carter scored his 33rd and 34th goals of the season to help Philadelphia beat the Thrashers for the 14th straight time.
Joffrey Lupul also scored, and Antero Nittymaki made 29 saves to improve to 13-0 against Atlanta. Ilya Kovalchuk and Slava Kozlov had power-play goals for Atlanta.
STARS 4, PREDATORS 1 - In Dallas, Brian Sutherby scored a short-handed goal, Brad Richards had a power-play goal and an assist, and the Stars ended Nashville's four-game winning streak.
Marty Turco made 25 saves, and Mark Parrish and Steve Ott added goals for the Stars, 11-1-1 in their last 13 at home. Former Star Jason Arnott scored for Nashville.
WILD 3, OILERS 2, SO - In St. Paul, Minn., Mikko Koivu scored in the fourth round of a shootout, beating Dwayne Roloson with a shot between the leg pads, to give the Wild their ninth straight home victory over Edmonton.
Niklas Backstrom made 28 saves and stopped all four attempts in the shootout.
Antti Miettinen and Eric Belanger scored in regulation for Minnesota. Sheldon Souray and Sam Gagner scored for Edmonton.