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Trending: Wings lose Nielsen and Green in loss to Avalanche

Bertuzzi, Larkin and Smith get goals for Detroit

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DENVER -- The Red Wings were able to hold off the high-scoring Avalanche in the first period but couldn't sustain that pace.

After taking a 1-0 lead into the second period, Detroit gave up the next four goals as Colorado went into their break with a 6-3 victory Monday afternoon at the Pepsi Center.

Although forward Valtteri Filppula was able to play after leaving Saturday's game with a lower-body injury, the Wings lost both center Frans Nielsen and defenseman Mike Green to upper-body injuries.

Nielsen left early in the first and Green was hurt during the second.

Wings coach Jeff Blashill did not have an update on Nielsen or Green, saying he would know more on Tuesday,

Both center Christoffer Ehn and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who were healthy scratches, are available.

Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Givani Smith scored for the Wings.

Nazem Kadri (two, one power play), Nathan MacKinnon (two, one empty net), Matt Nieto and Ryan Graves scored for the Avalanche.

Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard (2-18-2) made 40 saves.

Colorado netminder Pavel Francouz (12-4-2) had 22 saves in his first career start against the Wings.

Up next for the Wings (12-34-4) is a trip to Minnesota to face the Wild Wednesday night before the All-Star break.

The Avalanche (28-15-6) do not play again until Feb. 1 at the Philadelphia Flyers.

1. Dylan Larkin: While Larkin may not be on the 32-goal pace he had last season, he has definitely been producing more points of late. At 7:02, Larkin backhanded the puck past Francouz for his 13th goal of the season and second in as many games. Bertuzzi and Filip Zadina picked up the assists. With his assist on Bertuzzi's goal in the first and on Smith's goal in the third, Larkin has five goals and eight assists in his last 12 games. With the early loss of Nielsen, Larkin was forced into even more ice time than he usually gets. Larkin finished with 29 shifts for 22:32, had three shots, three takeaways, one blocked shot, was 13-for-29 in face-offs and was even.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Nice Larkin backhand here.

Quotable: "It's confidence. In this league, when you don't have it and you're afraid to have the puck on your stick, it's not a fun league to play in with the way the guys can skate and the big guys. I think it came back to wanting the puck on my stick and moving my feet. I'm playing with great linemates and getting all the opportunity I can ask for. I still need to be better defensively, still have more to contribute to this team. I understand that. I want more for myself and everyone in this room. We deserve better but we have to stay in it and work for each other." - Larkin

Quotable II: "I think he's played pretty well since the break. Skating-wise he's been better. When you start to lose confidence, or the losses wear on you, it starts to hurt your energy a little bit. We gotta be careful that way now, to be honest with you. Find a way to have great energy here in our last game before the break, and then get ourselves rejuvenated coming back out of the break. I think Dylan, he competes hard all the time. We asked a lot of him here. We've lost centermen the last two games . He played 24 minutes the other night. I haven't seen the report tonight. I'm sure he played lots of minutes tonight. We're asking probably too much of him in terms of minutes, so we gotta do a better job of managing that but I think he's playing really, really hard." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill

2. Tyler Bertuzzi/Givani Smith: The Wings' most consistent offensive scorer this season, Bertuzzi had been a little quiet the last four games, going without a point. But Larkin stole the puck from Nikita Zadorov behind the net and found Bertuzzi at the right doorstep for Bertuzzi's team-leading 17th goal of the season at 2:28 of the first period. Larkin is second with 13 and the injured Anthony Mantha is third with 12. Bertuzzi also assisted on Larkin's third-period goal. Bertuzzi finished with 21 shifts for 18:48, had three shots, a hit, two giveaways and was minus-1. Smith got the opportunity to play with Filppula and Robby Fabbri, in addition to getting time on the power play. On an early power play, Smith worked down low and had a couple of chances that Francouz managed to keep out of the net. But in the third period, Smith again went to the net and was able to put in Fabbri's pass at 17:57. It is Smith's second career goal. He scored his first last Tuesday in New York against the Islanders. Smith finished with 13 shifts for 11:15, had three shots, two hits, a blocked shot and was even.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: .@Dylanlarkin39 + @tylerbertuzzi = 😁

Quotable: "It's pretty good. That's where I'm going to score most of my goals. I'm ready for that. The goalie made a good first save. I just tried to bang the rebound in. It didn't go in but I created a couple chances. It feels pretty good, it's good that Blash trusts me out there to get more ice time and get more offensive time and D-zone time. I just want o build from there." - Smith

Quotable II: "I think this rivalry, I got asked a couple days ago if it's still there, with the fans most definitely it's still there. Next year and the year after and years following, with the players they have and the players we have, it's going to be an exciting rivalry again. Tyler absolutely does and he's a guy that I can wait for him to be in a playoff series with us and see what he can do. Simple game. (Smith's) not doing anything to cost us. He's an impact with his size and physicality, mixing up, you saw him score against tonight, he goes to the net hard, he wins puck battles. He has been a positive." - Larkin

Quotable III: "It's good. We need guys to develop and to step in and start to learn their craft. G's done a good job of stepping in and being that power forward type of player. Getting in there, banging on the forecheck, just going to the net." - Howard

Quotable IV: "In the big picture (Smith's) making a real case for himself, whether it's been when he's up here or when he's been in the minors. He's a big, big, big man. When you look at guys and say 'what's their NHL skillset.' His NHL skillset is he's a big man who plays hard and has got good enough hands and enough skill, I think has done a really good job of learning how to play within himself and utilize his skillset the best he can in the NHL. He's got certain things he's got to get better at. He's got to keep learning how to play within structure, making sure he does the systems right so it's a unit of five. But he cares a lot and it getting better." - Blashill

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Givani Smith���s goal. #LGRW

3. Jimmy Howard: Howard was making his third start in four days after starting both games of the back-to-back set on Friday and Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers, respectively. The Avalanche came into the game as the highest-scoring first period team with 57 goals. But Howard was up for the early challenge, stopping Ryan Graves from the left point 20 seconds into the game. Howard stopped Tyson Jost in front of the net about three minutes in. With two consecutive power plays, the Avalanche had three shots and Howard stopped MacKinnon's quick release from the right circle at 7:42. Jost had a breakaway with the man-advantage at 19:09 but Howard kept the puck out. There was nothing Howard could do when Kadri redirected Cale Makar's shot from the high slot at 1:02 of the second while still on the power play. The Avalanche quickly made it 2-1 when MacKinnon was alone on the left doorstep at 2:56. After losing Frans Nielsen and Mike Green in the third, the Wings were taxed in the third and the Avalanche struck quickly with Kadri getting his second goal of the game at 4:19 and Matt Nieto following with a tally at 5:12. Ryan Graves added another at 13:59, a rocket from the left point.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Post game reaction with Dylan Larkin, Jimmy Howard, Givani Smith and Coach Blashill. | #DETvsCOL @CocaCola

Quotable: "I've felt good the last three games. It's unfortunate that when you give that type of team that many opportunities, they're gonna find a way to put it in the net. The confidence is high, even though we gave up quite a few shots. When you're on the road, it doesn't matter. When you come in after the first period up 1-0, the guys felt good. We just weren't able to sustain it." - Howard

Quotable II: "Howard was excellent tonight. He gave us a chance. We wouldn't be in the game if he hadn't played as well as he played, so he was excellent. He's been really good the last three games, he looks like he's on top of his game. I hate to see the back-door goals because those are goals that eat away at a goalie's confidence. We just got to make sure he understands we're going to do everything we can to correct that. He's just to keep stopping the ones he's supposed to stop and not cheat and hope on the back door. That's what happens sometimes. Got to get him rest tomorrow. I don't know if he'll skate or not. Got to get him some rest for sure because there were some hard games. The Florida game was hard, this game was hard in terms of being in your crouch a lot." - Blashill

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