DENVER (AP) -- The Detroit Red Wings made the most of their
5-on-3 skates Saturday.
"Special teams were huge for both sides tonight," Detroit
defenseman Mathieu Schneider said. "Our guys on the 5-on-3,
(Chris) Chelios and (Kris) Draper and Nickie Lidstrom, did an
unbelievable job of shutting them down. That was the difference
right there, one goal."
The Avalanche managed one shot on goal during their second
5-on-3 advantage, which lasted 53 seconds and came midway through
the third period with the Red Wings clinging to their 4-3 lead.
"With a 5-on-3, we've got to find a way to put the puck in the
net," lamented Avs captain Joe Sakic.
The Avs, who were 1-for-8 on power plays, also failed to
capitalize on Brett Lebda's holding call with 3:53 left. They even
yanked their goalie for the final 10 seconds of the power play but
failed to get a shot off.
"Our penalty killers did a phenomenal job tonight. I didn't
have to do much," Detroit goalie Manny Legace said. "They've been
unbelievable this whole year. You have to give them all the credit.
They're going to get a shot, but they won't let them get a second
rebound. All the sticks were tied up.
"It's amazing how these guys dedicate themselves."
In its last two games, Colorado is 2-for-18 on power plays, and
0-for-3 when skating with a two-man advantage.
"We had a quick one early on but the second one was a major
one, it lasted a minute," Avs defenseman Rob Blake said. "The big
difference in their 5-on-3? They made the play."
After Brett Clark and Antti Laaksonen went to the penalty box
for hooking, the Central Division-leading Red Wings, who were
2-for-5 on power plays, capitalized on their two-man advantage to
break a 3-3 tie in the second period. Pavel Datsyuk passed the puck
across the crease and Lang put it past David Aebischer's stick side
from right in front of the net.
"We had the play set up well," Lang said. "We moved the puck
up high, down low and over to me."
Something the Avalanche couldn't do during their 5-on-3 skates.
The Red Wings won their fourth straight and snapped the Avs'
five-game home winning streak, Colorado's longest since closing out
the 2002-03 season with six straight home wins.
The Avalanche had erased a 3-1 deficit with two second-period
goals. Patrice Brisebois' shot from the right point deflected off
Andrew Brunette to pull Colorado to 3-2 at 1:29 of the period and
Blake's slap shot from the left point tied it at 3 at 13:23.
The Red Wings needed 49 seconds to score on Datsyuk's shot past
Aebischer, whose personal seven-game winning streak was halted
Thursday night in Chicago. Forty-six seconds later, Ian Laperriere
tied it when he deflected John-Michael Liles' shot past Legace.
Tomas Holmstrom redirected Daniel Cleary's great pass between a
defender and a teammate for a 2-1 Detroit lead, and Schneider's
pass through traffic on a power play gave the Red Wings a 3-1 lead
at 18:51 of the first period.
Don't blame Aebischer, Blake said.
"In the first period, if it wasn't for Abby, it could have been
6-1," Blake said. "In the first period, they were all over us
making plays wherever they wanted."
Legace concurred: "Aebischer played unbelievable. If it wasn't
for him, it would've been 10-3. The saves he was making, I was just
Aebischer remained one win shy of equaling the franchise record
of eight wins by a goaltender in the month of January, set by
Patrick Roy in 2001.
"There are going to be days like this and periods like the
first," Aebischer said. "It was the same thing in Chicago. Today
it was the first period. In Chicago it was a bad second period."
Avs D Karlis Skrastins played in his 400th consecutive
game, the longest active streak in the NHL. ... The Avs began a
five-game homestand that includes four opponents who are atop their
respective divisions. ... These teams have won five of the last
nine Stanley Cups.