Johan Franzen scored three goals – one in each period – to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit now holds a 2-0 lead in the series, which shifts to Denver for Tuesday night’s Game 3 at Pepsi Center.
“We wanted to build off of what happened last game (rallying to make it 4-3), but it didn’t happen,” said Avalanche captain Joe Sakic. “Down 2-0, we’ve been here before.
Goaltender Jose Theodore was back in the Colorado net after leaving Game 1 due to illness. However, the Avalanche were again without forward Peter Forsberg (groin), who came out for pre-game warm-ups but wasn’t able to participate in Game 2.
“He knows his body and he said he was unable to go,” Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville
said of Forsberg. “He’s made a real impact since he’s been here. He gives the opposition a lot to think about. We think he’s pretty close.”
The Wings took a 1-0 lead 4:22 into the first period on a Franzen power-play goal. After setting up in front of Theodore, Franzen redirected a Mikael Samuelsson pass into the Avalanche net for his third goal of the series.
Franzen added another power-play tally 4:04 into the second frame on a backhand wraparound attempt that snuck just under the crossbar, while Valtteri Filppula made it a 3-0 game 1:38 later when he deposited the rebound of a Dallas Drake point shot.
Henrik Zetterberg extended Detroit’s lead to 4-0 before the second intermission by holding onto the puck during a 2-on-1 rush and beating Theodore high to his glove side.
After the goal, Peter Budaj replaced Theodore in the Avalanche net.
Colorado came out and scored early in the third period, with Ian Laperriere notching his third career playoff goal. Cody McCormick kept a Chris Chelios clearing attempt in Colorado’s offensive zone and quickly attempted a shot from the left wing. McCormick partially fanned on the shot, but was able to tip the puck to Laperriere, who banged it home from just outside the crease at 2:38.
Franzen then completed the hat trick with a short-handed goal at 8:47, knocking the rebound of a Zetterberg shot out of mid-air and past Budaj to give the Wings a 5-1 lead.
For the second straight game, the Avalanche played without the services of Forsberg. McCormick was in the lineup for the second consecutive contest, while Jaroslav Hlinka made his playoff debut in place of Wojtek Wolski, who left Game 1 with an upper-body injury and is out indefinitely.
Defenseman Jeff Finger was also inserted into the lineup in place of Scott Hannan (lower-body injury). Finger played in the first three games of Colorado’s Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild before being replaced by Jordan Leopold.
Budaj has done an admirable job through the first two games of the Western Conference Semifinals when relieving starter Jose Theodore.
Budaj saved all 20 shots he faced in 37:42 of action after replacing Theodore in Game 1 and stopped 19-of-20 attempts today in 29:48. Budaj’s performances add up to a .975 save percentage and a 0.89 goals-against average.
Following the game, Quenneville stated he will examine his options heading into Game Three on Tuesday night, but expressed his continued confidence in Theodore.
"We'll talk about everything, but Jose has been our guy,” said Quenneville. “Coming off what he went through was not easy. Budaj did a nice job in relief."