Wings have ailing Avalanche on ropes
The return of Peter Forsberg wasn't enough for the Colorado Avalanche to stop the surging Detroit Red Wings.
Johan Franzen netted his playoff-leading eighth goal and Pavel Datsyuk chipped in with three points to guide the Red Wings to a 4-3 win over the Avalanche in Denver Tuesday night.
Winners of five straight games in this post-season, Detroit leads its Western Conference semifinal 3-0 and can wrap up the best-of-seven series with a victory in Game 4 Thursday in Denver.
After missing the first two games of the series with a groin injury, Forsberg was back in the lineup for Game 3, but the Avalanche lost leading scorer Paul Stastny (71 points during the regular season) to a knee injury during the first period.
It wasn't apparent how Stastny was injured, but he was examined in the locker-room during the first intermission and did not return for the rest of the game. His status for Game 4 is unknown.
If Stastny can't play, it would be yet another blow for a Colorado team that has been hit hard by injuries. Wojtek Wolski suffered what appeared to be a shoulder injury in Game 1 that has ruled him out for the rest of this series, and fellow forward Ryan Smyth sat out Game 4 with a foot injury.
Defenceman Scott Hannan, who missed Game 2 with a lower-body ailment, returned for Colorado Tuesday, but he limped off the ice after taking a crushing hit in the final minute of regulation time.
"Everybody's got bumps and bruises and injuries are going to happen," said Colorado forward Andrew Brunette, who scored twice. "It happened all year, and it happened to other teams, too. It's something you have to battle through. You can't sit there and say, 'Oh, so-and-so's out.' It's something you battle through."
Forsberg was kept off the scoresheet during his 17 minutes of ice time, his major contribution to the game coming midway through the second period when he picked up a four-minute penalty for high-sticking with Colorado down a goal.
Henrik Zetterberg scored on the ensuing power play to make it 4-2, giving Detroit a two-goal lead it would not relinquish.
"I didn't realize I hit him," Forsberg said. "But I guess he was bleeding so I guess I did hit him, so I have nothing to say. If he's bleeding, it's four minutes. I didn't think I hit him that hard."
Avalanche rookie Cody Mcleod opened the scoring at 5:17 of the first period, netting his first career playoff goal on a tip in before Datsyuk equalized on the power play at 12:14 and Franzen netted his sixth goal of the series.
"My shots are finding the back of the net," Franzen said. "It's going good right now, but you never know when that will stop."
The teams combined for three goals during a six-minute span in a wide-open second period, starting with Datsyuk's second goal of the game at 6:36 when he skated around Adam Foote and put the puck past Colorado goalie Jose Theodore.
"There were no defencemen on either goal," Datsyuk said. "All I had to worry about was the goalie."
Brunette scored at 8:08 while the Avalanche had the man advantage, before Detroit's Zetterberg notched a power-play goal of his own at 12:24, converting on a pretty passing play to restore the Red Wings' two-goal cushion.
Brunette made it a one-goal game with his second power-play marker early in the third period on a nice feed from Joe Sakic, but Detroit goalie Chris Osgood made some big saves down the stretch, including a great pad stop on Colorado winger David Jones on a breakaway chance in the final minutes of regulation to preserve the win.
"Our power play was good and we played great 5-on-5," Osgood said. "We put pucks on the net and created goals. We took too many penalties to let them back in the game and gave them some momentum at the end. But we held on at the end.
"It was good to have that cushion, to have our guys get us four goals after two periods."
Detroit sports a 7-0 record against Colorado in 2007-08, including three shutouts in the regular season.
Only two teams in the history of the NHL have erased 3-0 deficits to win a playoff series: the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders.
Sakic collected two assists on the night to move past Steve Yzerman for eighth place on the NHL's career playoff list with 186 points. Sakic needs two more points to tie Doug Gilmour