Red Wings down Forsberg-less Avalanche

Johan Franzen scored a pair of goals and added an assist to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal.

Denied the services of one of their top forwards, the Colorado Avalanche put forth a valiant effort but still came up short.

Detroit forward Johan Franzen scored a pair of goals and added an assist to lead the hometown Red Wings to a 4-3 win over Colorado on Thursday in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal.

Colorado's Peter Forsberg skated with the team in practice earlier in the day, but the veteran forward was pulled from the lineup just before game time due to a groin injury.

"He pulled his groin in the morning skate," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "We were hoping he would be able to go, but he wasn't about to go through the pre-game warmups."

In another interesting development, Avalanche goalie Jose Theodore was chased from the contest early in the second period after he gave up four goals on 16 shots and returned to the team's hotel with an unknown illness.

"Jose was sick last night," Quenneville said. "Normally, he skates the morning of a game. But he rested all day and he wanted to play. He's not feeling great right. But hopefully, it's a short spell and he'll be fine."

The loss of Forsberg was a big blow for Colorado, as the veteran forward was second in team scoring with five points in the first round against the Minnesota Wild. Theodore was also a key player for the Avalanche against Minnesota, recording a stellar 1.88 goals-against average and stopping 72 of 75 shots he faced in the last two games of the series.

It's not known if Forsberg or Theodore will be able to return for Game 2 of the best-of-seven series Saturday in Detroit (3 pm ET).

Even without Forsberg, Colorado got off to a quick start.

Paul Statsny opened the scoring at 8:53, but it took just 57 seconds for the Red Wings to tie the game, Henrik Zetterberg netting his third goal of the playoffs on a pretty passing play.

"Even though they got the first goal, we felt like we were the better team," Franzen said. "Good thing we got a goal the next shift."

Zetterberg's goal opened the floodgates, as Detroit's Daniel Cleary found the back of the net four minutes later and Franzen scored on the power play at 17:23 to give the Red Wings a 3-1 lead going into the first intermission.

Franzen added his second goal of the game, and fourth of the playoffs, when he fired a blistering slapshot from the top of the circle past Theodore early in the second period.

That was enough for Quenneville to pull Theodore in favour of backup Peter Budaj, who made 20 saves in his playoff debut.

The goaltending change seemed to rejuvenate the Avalanche.

Defenceman John Michael-Liles breathed some new life into Colorado when he notched his first goal of the post-season at 5:17, blowing a shot past Osgood on the stick side, and Milan Hejduk converted a 3-on-2 breakaway in the final minutes of the frame to pull the Avalanche within a goal.

"We had a real good second period and we had some good chances to get the equalizer in the end," Quenneville said. "It says we can compete against this team."

Detroit goalie Chris Osgood was far from brilliant, giving up three goals on 21 shots, but he made some big saves in the third period as Colorado furiously pressed for the equalizer, including a key stop off a goalmouth scramble in the final minute of regulation with the Avalanche buzzing around his net.

"He shut the door when the game was on the line," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

With files from Associated Press