DENVER -- At the very least, the Colorado Avalanche thought they were headed to overtime when Alex Tanguay scored with 6:18 remaining in the third period to tie the Detroit Red Wings 3-3 in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game before 50,095 at Coors Field on Saturday.
Tanguay, who had gone 14 games without a goal, pumped his arm to celebrate his fourth goal of the season, which came 14 seconds after Justin Abdelkader scored to give the Red Wings a 3-2 lead.
But the Avalanche let overtime and at least one valuable point slip away.
Detroit forward Brad Richards chipped the rebound of defenseman Niklas Kronwall's point shot off Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov's blocker and into the net with one minute to play, and Darren Helm completed the 5-3 win with an empty-net goal with 19.3 seconds to go.
"There was a rush in front of the goal line, and then the rebound goes right on his stick," Varlamov said of Richards' goal. "It's really frustrating. I thought we played pretty good today. All game we had a strong game. I think we played well. It just happened, very frustrating."
Video: DET@COL: Barrie nets Comeau's dish after fake
It was the sixth time - and fourth in regulation -- the Avalanche lost a game they led heading into the third period.
"Very disappointing," Tanguay said. "We felt we were in the game the whole game. They just capitalized on their bounces, and they did get the right bounces at the right time. A couple pucks squeaked through that usually don't squeeze through, and tonight they found a way."
The Avalanche had a chance to take the lead with a power play less than a minute after Tanguay scored, but they didn't force Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek to make any saves.
"We had good energy on the bench," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. "Yes, I was confident we could score. Even with a minute left I thought we might have a chance to score."
The Avalanche were held without a shot on all three of their power plays and have gone 2-for-22 with the man-advantage in the past seven games.
Video: DET@COL: MacKinnon unleashes top-shelf goal on rush
"We had a tough power play tonight," said center Nathan MacKinnon, who scored in the first period and assisted on Tanguay's goal. "They did a good job killing, they didn't let us break in very easily. We can't let them score four in the third period; that's not good. It was a fun experience, but it would have been nice to get the win."
Varlamov made 43 saves against Detroit on Feb. 12 in a 3-2 shootout win at Joe Louis Arena, but he had a subpar performance Saturday.
"He's going to bounce back in the next game in [Minnesota on Tuesday]," Roy said. "I'm sure there are a couple goals he'd like to see again."
The Red Wings opened the scoring at 5:07 of the first period on a Tomas Tatar goal, but the Avalanche answered with goals from MacKinnon and defenseman Tyson Barrie.
MacKinnon accepted a pass from Gabriel Landeskog, sped down left wing on a 2-on-1 rush and beat Mrazek high to the far side for his 20th goal at 7:44. Barrie put the Avalanche in front at 14:38, skating down the right side to score into a half-open net off a feed from Blake Comeau for his 11th goal.
Video: DET@COL: Varlamov hangs on for the save to stop play
The Avalanche's best chance in a scoreless second period came when Landeskog's shot hit off the crossbar with nine minutes left while killing off a Chris Bigras holding penalty.
The Red Wings scored the first of their four third-period goals when forward Gustav Nyquist beat Varlamov to the short side with a shot from low in the right circle, tying it 2-2 at 1:27.
Varlamov said the wind, which kicked up in the third, didn't affect his play.
"No, the weather was pretty good. I didn't feel the wind at all," he said.
Video: DET@COL: Tanguay answers quick to even game in 3rd
The Avalanche (32-28-4) are four points ahead of the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference but have played two more games.
"The outcome's tough. We needed the win, we need to get points to play in the playoffs," MacKinnon said. "But it was a really cool experience. I'm very thankful and very fortunate that we all got to play in this. Coors Field is a great venue."