He had his first career hat trick Friday night in a 5-1 victory that ended the Anaheim Ducks' club-record 13-game home winning streak.
The Red Wings forward scored one goal in his first 28 games. But he has five in his past three games.
"It was really frustrating, but it's part of the business," said Abdelkader, who signed a four-year, $7.2 million contract Sept. 14.
"I didn't play anywhere during the lockout and I had a slow start. It took a little bit for me to get my legs underneath me and get my hands and everything going good. I think it took me about 10 games to do that -- and I think I'm speaking for most of the guys who didn't play during the lockout. But thankfully, we won't have to go through it for another eight years."
Detroit began a four-game road trip with the first of back-to-back games against the Pacific Division leaders, who beat the Red Wings 5-2 in their only other meeting, Feb. 15 at Joe Louis Arena. The teams meet again Sunday at Honda Center.
Abdelkader, who had three previous multigoal games in his career, had the Red Wings' second hat trick of the season at 12:46 of the second period when he beat Jonas Hiller to the stick side with a one-timer from the slot after Johan Franzen set him up for the second straight time.
"I was the beneficiary of some good plays by Johan Franzen and Pavs," Abdelkader said. "It was just one of those games where you keep getting the puck and you just keep shooting. Sometimes the puck will follow you, and maybe that was the case in this game. But I give those guys a lot of credit."
Coming off an emotional come-from-behind 4-2 home win over Chicago in a game featuring the teams with the top two records in the NHL, the Ducks couldn't extend the momentum against Detroit, which turned several defensive mistakes into goals.
"I don't know why this game would be a letdown," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I mean, we had a whole 24 hours in between -- and you're playing the Detroit Red Wings, for crying out loud. I would be jacked up just so I didn't hear their fans cheering. And in our building, that's embarrassing enough. We want to remember this one and we don't want it to happen again."
The Red Wings chased goalie Viktor Fasth to the bench after he gave up Abdelkader's second of the game at 3:06 of the second period to make it 3-1. Fasth, who faced just 11 shots, went in 6-0 at home while giving up just eight goals.
"I didn't think Viktor was really sharp, so I said to myself, if they score early in the second period, I was going to take him out and shake things up because it would still give us enough time to bounce back," Boudreau said. "But tonight wasn't going to be one of those nights to bounce back."
Franzen was trying to set up Abdelkader again when his centering pass deflected into the net off the stick of Ducks rookie Emerson Etem with 4:43 to play. Franzen was credited with the goal, and Abdelkader had an assist.
Teemu Selanne scored for the Ducks, whose only other loss at Honda Center was Jan. 25 when Vancouver beat them 5-0 in the home opener. Their record dipped to 22-4-4, still three points behind the idle Blackhawks for the best record in the league.
"After the first goal they got, we were sort of dead in the water the rest of the game," Boudreau said. "I thought the first 10 minutes, we were all over them. But we weren't very good the last 50 minutes. We turned the puck over and then we didn't forecheck, so that's a bad combination."
Ducks right wing Corey Perry returned to the lineup after serving a four-game suspension without pay for his elbow to the head of Minnesota's Jason Zucker on March 12 -- which earned him a 5-minute major for interference and a game misconduct.
It was Perry's first game since signing an eight-year, $69 million contract extension Monday, and the Ducks were 3-0-1 in his absence.
Howard got a break at 6:45 of the first period when a video replay overturned a goal by Etem, who was ruled to have directed the puck into the net with his left skate after knocking it out of the air with his stick below the crossbar.
But the Ducks opened the scoring at 11:31 when Selanne got a return pass in the slot from Kyle Palmieri and one-timed it past Howard's outstretched left leg for his eighth goal of the season and 671st of his career.
Detroit tied it at 13:36 when Abdelkader carried the puck into the zone after a pass from Brendan Smith, stickhandled around Sheldon Souray in the right circle and cut in front of the net before stuffing the puck between Fasth's pads. Howard was credited with an assist.
Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf was sent off for hooking Valtteri Filppula at 14:59 of the first, and Datsyuk capitalized 44 seconds later, backhanding his 10th goal of the season and 250th of his career into a wide-open net after Fasth made the save on Damien Brunner's short wrist shot.
Abdelkader made it 3-1 at 3:06 of the second period, getting a cross-ice pass in the right circle from Franzen and beating Fasth to the short side with a wrist shot over the goalie's glove.
"You can't get too high or too low in this league. I mean, obviously we were happy about what happened Wednesday, but we were ready to go tonight, I thought," defenseman Cam Fowler said. "We just got on the wrong side of a couple of bounces, and before you know it, we're down three goals. You give that team just a little bit of light, and they're so good lifting sticks and knocking pucks down that they'll make you pay for it."
Abdelkader had eight goals and 14 assists in 81 games last season for Detroit. ... Datsyuk earned his 500th NHL assist on Abdelkader's third goal. ... Datsyuk extended the Red Wings' streak of consecutive games with a power-play goal to six. ... The Ducks, who went in with the league's second-best power play, are 1-for-21 over their past nine games. ... The Ducks' remaining schedule includes back-to-back sets against San Jose and Edmonton, and a stretch of three consecutive games against Dallas.