Red Wings 4, Avalanche 3
— It looked like it wasn’t going to live up to the hype.
There was no Peter Forsberg, who was scratched with a groin injury. There was no Patrick Roy-era goaltending, with Avalanche goalie Jose Theodore pulled early in the second period with the Red Wings dominating 4-1.
But somehow, it still did.
Instead, it was one Milan Hejduk shot off the goal post from being a tie game late in the third period. It was one spectacular Chris Osgood
save with 8.4 seconds left in regulation from heading to overtime.
But the Red Wings held on, taking Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal in nail-biting fashion, 4-3.
had two goals and an assist, Dan Cleary
scored his first goal of the playoffs, and Henrik Zetterberg
also scored in the victory.
"It's gonna be a talented, free-flowing series but it's gonna be in the trenches, too,” Osgood said. “Behind the net. In front. And we gotta keep our composure. I thought we did a great job. There's going to be momentum swings that are going to be huge in this series and go back and forth."
Franzen put the Red Wings up 4-1 just over a minute into the second period. With no traffic in front, his long point shot sailed over Theodore’s left pad.
That was enough for Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville, who yanked Theodore in favor Peter Budaj, who had never played in the playoffs. Theodore, who allowed four goals on 16 shots, was sent to the team hotel feeling sick.
"Jose was sick last night,” Quenneville said. “Normally, he skates the morning of a game. But he rested all day and he wanted to play. He's not feeling great. But hopefully, it's a short spell and he'll be fine."
Four minutes after the goaltender change, Colorado started its comeback bid.
John-Michael Liles darted down the left side, sneaking a shot between the knob of Osgood’s stick and the top of his pad.
The goal started a shift in momentum. The Avalanche cut the lead to one with 3:31 left in the second period. Off a 3-on-2, Paul Stastny slid a pass by Nicklas Lidstrom
right onto the stick of Hejduk, whose shot beat Osgood’s skate to the far post.
"When you're up 4-1, you're saying ‘We've got a lot of hockey left, let's get playing,’” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “There wasn't much going on, and then all the sudden, there's a lot going on."
The Avalanche continued the offensive zone pressure, forcing clutch play from Osgood in the final minutes of the second, including a point-blank save on Joe Sakic.
But Osgood’s best came with 8.4 seconds left in the game and Budaj on the bench. Liles took a feed between Brian Rafalski’s legs, but Osgood quickly pushed across the crease to grab the point-block opportunity.
"I just pushed out,” Osgood said. “I knew there wasn't a lot of time left. He couldn't have done much, because I was right on top of him."
Budaj stopped all 20 shots he faced, including 10 in the third period. The relief netminder stopped two in a row off Tomas Holmstrom five minutes into the third, and then fended off a Zetterberg backhander minutes later.
Before Detroit scored four consecutive goals, the Ryan Smyth-Stastny-Hejduk line opened the scoring midway through the first period. Zetterberg responded with a tally less than minute later at 9:46, the first of four consecutive Detroit goals.
GAME NOTES: Seven roster players have played in every playoff meeting between the Red Wings and Avalanche: Joe Sakic, Adam Foote, Peter Forsberg, Nicklas Lidstrom, Darren McCarty, Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby. … Forsberg pulled his groin in the morning skate and did not play. "We knew around 5 o'clock, he pulled his groin in the morning skate,” Quenneville said. “We were hoping he would be able to go, but he wasn't able to go through pregame warmups. Obviously, you miss Peter's talent because he attracts a lot of attention from the opposition. But we're used to him being in and out." … Brad Stuart, whose wife had their baby boy (Logan Michael) on Wednesday, also missed Game 1. … Andreas Lilja, who has not played since Game 3 of the first round series against Nashville, replaced Stuart. Cody McCormick, playing in his first NHL playoff game, replaced Forsberg. … Avalanche forward Wojtek Wolski suffered an upper-body injury and did not return after the first period. "We're hopefully he can play going forward,” Quenneville said.
|Three star selections