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Johan Franzen has hat trick as Red Wings beat Avs 8-2, sweep series @NHLdotcom

DENVER - Johan Franzen outscored the Colorado Avalanche by himself.

Franzen's second hat trick in three games fueled the Detroit Red Wings' 8-2 rout Thursday night that completed a sweep of the injury-riddled Avalanche. Franzen's nine goals in the series matched Colorado's total, and his three goals in Game 4 made him the first player with two hat tricks in one series since Jari Kurri did it for Edmonton in 1985.

In his first taste of the bitter rivalry, Franzen was simply too dominant to experience the bad blood that usually boils this time of year between the teams.

The "Mule" scored on a breakaway in the first period and added a short-handed backhander and a redirection into the net in the second, when the Red Wings scored four times to take a 7-1 lead.

The Red Wings advance to the Western Conference finals against the winner of the Dallas-San Jose series which the Stars lead 3-1.

Franzen needed just 10 playoff games to score 11 goals and break the Red Wings' record for most goals in one post-season, which was held by three players, including Brett Hull, who needed 23 games to do it in 2002.

The 28-year-old Swede, who scored 27 goals during the season, had a hat trick in Game 2. He is the second Red Wing to post two hat tricks in one playoff series, joining Norm Ullman, who did it against Chicago in 1964.

Thanks to Franzen, this series never was very close or contentious, unlike the other five times the teams met in the post-season, after which the winner went on to win the Stanley Cup three times.

None of those series was this one-sided, on the ice or in the trainer's room.

Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios was a scratch Thursday because of a lower body injury, but it hardly mattered against a depleted Colorado team that was missing four key players: centre Peter Forsberg (groin, ankle), leading scorer Paul Stastny (knee) and forwards Ryan Smyth (foot) and Wojtek Wolski (shoulder).

Colorado coach Joel Quenneville resorted to playing seven defencemen and 11 forwards instead of the usual 6-12 setup. With so many of his stars turned spectators, it looked more like he had a lineup of the Lake Erie Monsters, the Avalanche's top minor league team.

Franzen and Nicklas Lidstrom scored on 2-on-1 breaks in the final 86 seconds of the first period to send the Red Wings into the first intermission with a 3-1 lead and prompted Quenneville to replace goaltender Jose Theodore, who allowed three goals on 15 shots, with Peter Budaj.

Budaj stopped 19 of 20 shots in the first two games in Detroit when Theodore, stricken with the flu, allowed eight goals in less than four periods. Theodore, whose stellar play was the primary reason the Avalanche upset the Minnesota Wild in the first round, ended up allowing 15 goals on 86 shots in this series.

Budaj wasn't the stopper he was in Detroit, allowing five goals on 25 shots, including Henrik Zetterberg's two scores, first on the power play 2:15 into the second period and again 3 1/2 minutes later.

Franzen then added a short-handed goal and his redirection of Lidstrom's shot made it 7-1.

After Mikael Samuelsson's first of two goals gave Detroit a 1-0 lead, the Avs tied it on their very first shot when Joe Sakic flipped to Andrew Brunette behind the net and Brunette fed Tyler Arnason, who sent the puck over Chris Osgood's right shoulder.

Osgood stopped the next 22 shots he faced before John-Michael Liles put one past him during a 5-on-3 advantage.

Sakic, who missed 38 games at age 38 with a hernia this season, has said he'll wait until the summer to decide if he'll return for a 20th NHL season.

Notes: The Red Wings also swept the season series from Colorado and finished 8-0 vs. the Avalanche. ... Sakic's two assists gave him 188 career post-season points, tying Doug Gilmour for seventh place all-time.

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