Colorado had most of the scoring chances. Detroit had the hot goaltender -- and the bounces.
The Red Wings led 1-0 late in the second period when Kronwall fired a shot from the blue line that missed the target and hit the lively end boards at Joe Louis Arena just as goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere was extending his right leg. The puck hit Giguere's skate and deflected into the net at 17:32 to put the Red Wings up 2-0.
"I couldn't really find a lane through to the net, so I tried to get it somewhat close," Kronwall said. "That was a first."
Kronwall's goal enabled Detroit to survive a goal by Colorado's Paul Stastny with 1:30 left in regulation. Stastny backhanded his own rebound into the net after Howard stopped the first 34 shots he faced.
The Avalanche nearly got a lucky bounce of their own in the final 15 seconds when a shot went wide and caromed off the boards back to Matt Duchene in front of the net. But Duchene couldn't beat Howard. A frustrated Duchene broke his stick into three pieces after the final buzzer.
"The difference was really a couple of bounces for them and one hot goalie for them," Giguere said.
Detroit has held the opposition without a goal through 40 minutes in each of its last four games. Coach Mike Babcock was happy with Howard but not so pleased with some of his team's play.
"This was our loosest game in the last while," Babcock said. "To win on a nightly basis, you can't leave your goalie like that as much as we did tonight.
"Let's not give ourselves too much credit. The score and the amount of chances we gave up aren't the same. We've played better and lost -- but it's a good thing for our hockey club. There's never been an ugly win. We know how we have to play for this group to be successful. We have to keep doing a good job."
Howard is now 5-2-1 in his career against the Avalanche.
Detroit opened the scoring 7:00 into the second period when Johan Franzen beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere on a breakaway for his fourth of the season. Franzen took a lead pass from Damien Brunner and beat Giguere under the crossbar.
Howard's best save came two minutes into the third period when he stretched as far as he could on his side to stop a wide-open John Mitchell in front of the net. Mitchell had time to go forehand-to-backhand but couldn't get the puck past Howard.
Later in the period, Howard denied PA Parenteau on a breakaway.
"He was incredible tonight," Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "We played a good game. We did everything we could do except score."
Giguere stopped 31 shots for the Avalanche, who play at Chicago on Wednesday night. Colorado fell to 8-9-4 overall and 2-7-3 away from home.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report.