Final

Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Saturday, October 17th
Avalanche4Final
SO
Red Wings3
Game 2: Saturday, October 24th
Red Wings1Final
Avalanche3
Game 3: Thursday, December 31st
Avalanche2Final
Red Wings4
Game 4: Monday, March 1st
Red Wings3Final
Avalanche2

Avalanche 2

(23-13-6, 52 pts)

Red Wings 4

(20-14-6, 46 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 31, 2009

Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan

1 2 3 T
COL 0 1 12
DET 0 2 24

V. Leino (Red Wings - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

P. Datsyuk (Red Wings - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

B. Yip (Avalanche - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

Avalanche-Red Wings Preview

STATS LLC

Although the Detroit Red Wings been one of the most dominant teams of the last decade, they've hardly looked that way over the past month.

The surprising Colorado Avalanche, meanwhile, have the chance to enter 2010 with plenty of momentum if they can beat Detroit for a third time this season Thursday night.

Colorado (23-12-6) finished with a Western Conference-worst 69 points last season, but won 10 of its first 13 games in 2009-10 and has never really let up, building a three-point Northwest Division lead.

The Avalanche have totaled 19 goals while winning four of their last five, including a 4-3 victory at Ottawa on Wednesday. They've totaled 19 goals during the current stretch of strong play.

"It was a good game and it's always nice to win those," said Ryan O'Reilly, whose fifth goal of the season gave Colorado the insurance it needed early in Wednesday's third period. "Around the 10-minute mark, we let them come right back into it and that's been a tendency for us lately, but we are young and we have the leadership and we're changing that. In order for us to be successful down the road, that's something we have to do."

Colorado has outscored opponents 9-1 in the first period of its last five games, but has been outscored 9-5 in the third. The Avalanche's only loss in the last five games came after they allowed four goals in the final 20 minutes and fell 4-2 to Anaheim on Dec. 22.

Wednesday's win began a stretch of six road games out of seven for Colorado, but that may not be a problem. The Avalanche have won four straight away from home to improve to 12-7-4 on the road this season, and now have a chance for their first five-game road winning streak since a six-game run Jan. 19-March 11, 2002. They've also won their last three visits to Joe Louis Arena, including a 4-3 shootout win Oct. 17.

Colorado beat the Red Wings 3-1 at home one week later.

Regardless of the outcome of Thursday's game, Detroit (19-14-6) will end the decade with the most wins of any NHL team and having won the Stanley Cup twice. They enter Thursday with 428 victories during the decade, but the last month has certainly been difficult.

The injury-riddled Red Wings are 1-3-1 in the last five games and have been shut out in three of those contests, including a 1-0 overtime loss to Columbus on Monday.

Detroit has been shut out four times total this month -- the first time that's happened to the club in one month since March 1977. The Red Wings, who haven't scored more than three goals in any game during December, have never suffered five shutouts in the same month.

Despite the continued offensive struggles, Detroit found some positives after its latest defeat. The Wings finished with 34 shots -- their most in nine games -- despite managing only six in the first period.

"I think we were pretty disappointing with our start," Todd Bertuzzi told the Red Wings' official Web site. "We didn't come out and do anything that we wanted to do, and that was pretty embarrassing, so it was nice that we turned it around and came out with a little more jump and fire, and just tried to get more shots."

Bertuzzi has carried Detroit's offense at times recently, scoring eight of his team's 24 goals in December. He also had a goal in the Oct. 17 loss to the Avalanche.

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