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Several years ago this rivalry would be called "Friday Night at the Fights" but in recent years there has been less venom between the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche. More hockey is played now with less fist-a-cuffs.
Tonight there was a little of everything. Great defense with exhilarating offense was on display.
The Red Wings put the pressure on early and often. They lead the league in scoring first in games this year. And when the score first they usually win (30 wins and 5 losses when scoring first). There relentless attack of the Colorado zone was rewarded with early penalties to the Avalanche. This lead to an early 5 on 3 powerplay for Detroit but stellar play by Colorado goaltender Peter Budaj and a couple pucks off the goalposts and the powerplay would go for naught.
Detroit was relentless. They put 14 shots on Budaj while Colorado only managed 3 shots on Dominik Hasek. The first period ended goalless with Detroit having carried much of the play.
The second period would be much of the same. Detroit's four lines were flashing through the Colorado zone. Budaj was up to the task, however, stopping everything that came his way. Detroit's defense was almost flawless as they allowed only on shot on goal the entire period. The offense of the Avalanche was bottled up at every turn. Suddenly Colorado scored. Joe Louis Arena went silent. They only rose to their feet when the goal was disallowed for goaltender interference. Colorado's chance to take the lead had disappeared. Still nothing was decided as the two teams went to their locker-rooms for the second intermission in a scoreless tie.
Both teams knew that this one could be decided with just one goal and tensions were flying. A second period scuffle got the fans to their feet but proceedings fizzled out before any punches landed.
When play resumed there was more of the same. Detroit took the play to the Avalanche but something changed approximately eight minutes into the period. The Avalanche woke up and started applying equal pressure on the Red Wings. Hasek had to be sharp. The pressure was on the Detroit netminder and his defense seamed scattered. Composure returned as both teams traded rushes on respective goaltenders.
Everything changed at 17:40 of the third when a brilliant play by Pavel Datsyuk to Henrik Zetterberg netted Detroit their first goal. It was Zetterberg's 30th goal of the season but the first to get by Colorado's goalie, Budaj.
Detroit had found a way. But it wasn't over yet. Colorado would bring more pressure to bear in the final seconds of the period. With their goaltender pulled for the extra attacker they would come close but solid defense would net an open net goal and end all hope.
The final score would be 2-0. Zetterberg and Kris Draper were the goal scorers for Detroit and Pavel Datsyuk had 2 assists. Dominik Hasek would receive the shutout and with 34 saves on the night, Peter Budaj takes the loss.
The Red Wings carry on their winning ways with there sixth win in a row and two in a row following the All-Star break. This win was the third in a row against Colorado this season with one game left in the season series.
Detroit Red Wings go on the road for an Original Six match-up with the Boston Bruins tomorrow at 7:00 P.M.