Red Wings-Avalanche Preview
GAME: Detroit Red Wings (31-12-3) at Colorado Avalanche (27-18-3).
TIME: Saturday, 2 p.m. EST.
After having the third-longest win streak in franchise history come to an end in their last outing, the Colorado Avalanche look to get back on track as they open a five-game homestand with a matchup against the Detroit Red Wings.
Colorado's eight-game winning streak - snapped with a 4-2 loss to Chicago on Thursday night - allowed the Avalanche to rebound from a 16-13-2 start that saw the team try three different goalies in attempt to get some consistency from the position.
"I think we thought we could jump in and continue at a pace that this organization has played at for a long time, and unfortunately we had the start that we all didn't want," Colorado defenseman Rob Blake said. "I think we've rebounded well. I think (goalie) David Aebischer has been great for us the past eight, 10 games.
"A key to our turnaround is shutting the goals down and our defensive play in front of him has improved. Goal scoring has been there all year."
The Avalanche hadn't lost since Dec. 30 at San Jose, and Aebischer won the last seven games of the streak to solidify himself as the No. 1 goalie, a position he temporarily lost last month.
The Blackhawks were able to beat the Avalanche by staying aggressive. Colorado dominated the first period with a 6-1 power-play advantage and outshot Chicago 39-25 for the game, but sloppy play cost the Avs.
"Obviously we have had a lot of momentum and things are going well," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "We weren't good enough tonight and we've got to be better."
The Avs will be trying to do so against a Detroit team that leads the Western Conference with 65 points, and has won three straight and five of six over Colorado.
The Red Wings got 26 saves from backup Chris Osgood in their third consecutive victory Wednesday, 4-0 over Columbus. Detroit, 5-1 in its last six road games, has won 10 of 13 overall.
"Our last four games have been our best string of games in a while," said Osgood, who recorded his 42nd career shutout. "We're playing a lot better."
Tomas Holmstrom had two power-play goals, and Mark Mowers and Mathieu Schneider also scored for Detroit.
"All four goals, someone was right in the goalie's face," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who picked up his 100th career victory. "That's what you want and that's what you have to do at playoff time to beat good goalies."
The Red Wings have the league's best power play at 24.8 percent and have scored at least one goal with the man advantage in 10 straight games.
STANDINGS: Red Wings - 65 points, 1st place, Central Division. Avalanche - 57 points, 3rd place, 2 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Henrik Zetterberg and Brendan Shanahan, 22 goals; Pavel Datsyuk, 37 assists and 55 points; Chris Chelios, 70 PIM. Avalanche - Marek Svatos, 28 goals; Alex Tanguay, 35 assists and 55 points; Ian Laperriere, 70 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 19): Red Wings - Power play: 24.8 percent (66 for 266), 1st in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.7 percent (222 for 262), 5th. Avalanche - Power play: 20.1 percent (61 for 303), 6th. Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (233 for 273), 3rd.
GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Manny Legace (17-5-0, 3 SO, 2.15 GAA); Osgood (13-5-3, 1, 2.86). Avalanche - Aebischer (18-10-0, 2, 3.12); Peter Budaj (6-5-3, 2.80).
SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 23; Red Wings, 7-3. At Detroit, playing their first game since defenseman Jiri Fischer collapsed on the bench, the Red Wings got two goals and two assists from Mikael Samuelsson to snap a season-high four-game losing streak.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings - 15-5-2 on the road; Avalanche - 15-6-3 at home.