Colorado and Detroit. Tell that to any number of Avalanche or Red Wings fans and the mere mention of the other team's names evokes memories of the mid-90s and the heyday of this once heated rivalry. While the more heated days of the rivalry are probably behind us, there is no doubt fans of each team probably wouldn't be sending the other any Holiday Cards.
As the game got going both teams created great scoring opportunities. Two of the bigger chances were when Paul Stastny sent a shot wide from a tough angle and as a puck trickled into the slot, Daniel Winnik wasn't able to get much on a shot, but still forced Jimmy Howard to make a save.
As the period wore on both teams settled into more careful style of play, not wanting to give up that first goal against.
Detroit however would strike first on this night. As Henrik Zetterberg chipped the puck into the zone, Ryan Wilson took the body against Johan Franzen. He had him beat to the puck, then committed the worst possible turnover possible, as he sent a weak backhand into the middle of the slot that Nicklas Lidstrom was just able to walk into. Further complicating matters for Varly was the fact that Ryan O'Byrne made a feeble attempt to block the shot, and probably did more harm than good as Varly threw his hands up as he didn't even see the shot. 1-0 Wings on Lidstrom's 6th goal of the season.
Both teams would trade power plays in the closing minutes of the first period but neither team could cash in on their opportunities and the first period would end with the Wings leading 1-0.
As the second period got going, the Wings had some momentum going, then Paul Stastny took a cross checking penalty just over a minute and a half into the period. The Red Wings have been known for their ability to move the puck around the zone, especially on the power play. They definitely showed that ability when Valtteri Filppula sent a shot that was tipped in by Johan Franzen on a tic-tac-toe play to put the Red Wings up 2-0 at 2:36 of the second period.
After that goal, it seemed like the Avs were back on their heels. They really weren't generating very many offensive chances. Then Jay McClement took a pretty needless boarding penalty. Not only did it put one of the better Avalanche penalty killers in the box, but it put the dangerous Red Wings power play back on the ice. Just under 20 seconds into the power play, Niklas Kronwall sent a slap pass thru the high slot and right onto the tape of Johan Franzen who tipped it passed a helpless Semyon Varlamov. It would be the last goal he would give up as he would be lifted in favor of J.S. Giguere.
The Avalanche would get a power play shortly after giving up their second power play goal against of the game. It also appeared the Avalanche had a little more jump in their step after Varlamov was lifted.
The Avs power play game into the game scoring 26.7% of the time it was on the job. Gabriel Landeskog is playing just as everyone hoped he would so far this season. Ironically though he had yet to score on the power play. That's just what he did. Doing what every hockey coach always tells his players to do, crash the net, he was able to poke a shot past Jimmy Howard and into the net. It was Landeskog's 5th goal of the season.
The goal seemed to energize the team for a little while, but Detroit seemed to slip into a Minnesota style trap and was content in stifling any type of offensive rush the Avs tried to generate.
In one of the more creative plays I've seen in a while, Pavel Datsyuk tried flipping the puck over the back of net, potentially off of Giguere and into the net. Ryan O'Reilly was thankfully there to bat the puck down and foil the opportunity.
Just under 3 minutes into the 3rd period Ryan O'Reilly made one of his few mistakes in the game and took a hooking penalty to put the ever dangerous power play back on the ice. Fortunately the Avs were able to kill of the power play and keep the Avs in the game.
After a fairly uneventful third period for both teams, the Red Wings were able to cash in off of a bad rebound was given up by Jean-Sebastien Giguere off of a Pavel Datsyuk shot. It was Dan Cleary's second goal of the season to put the Wings up 4-1 with just over 5 minutes to play in the game.
As Matt Duchene made a very strong move to try and get around Pavel Datsyuk, he drew a holding call against the perennial Lady Byng winner to take just his second penalty of the season. The Avs would go back on the power play and would not need much time to cash in as Milan Hejduk sent it under Jimmy Howard 5th goal of the season to bring the Avs back within striking distance, 4-2.
Johan Franzen would seal the deal for the Red Wings as he scored an empty net goal with just over seconds remaining to complete his hat trick.
MHH Avalanche 3 Stars of the Night
- 1 Gabriel Landeskog (First NHL career power play goal)
- 2 Milan Hejduk (5th goal of the season)
- 3 Ryan Wilson (Great hip check on Henrik Zetterberg)
- 1 Hejduk-Statsny-Kobasew
- 2 Jones-Duchene-Lindstrom
- 3 Landeskog-O'Reilly-Winnik
- 4 McLeod-McClement-
- 1 Wilson-Johnson
- 2 O'Byrne-O'Brien
- 3 Hejda-Quincey
- 4 Hunnwick
- 1 I was EXTREMELY disappointed to see Joe Sacco scratch both TJ Galiardi and Kevin Porter in favor of defenseman Matt Hunnwick.
- 2 Avs went 2 for 3 on the power play to continue to lead the NHL in power play efficiency.
- 3 Avs penalty kill couldn't seem to find an answer for the Red Wings power play and gave up 2 goals.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The Islanders are coming to town on Thrusday night. The big story in this game will be the battle of John Tavares and Matt Duchene.