With a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche (28-36-1), the Detroit Red Wings (43-14-8) now lead the NHL with 94 points. As of Wednesday night, the San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins each had 93 points. Both of those teams have games in hand on Detroit, but it’s nice to see the Wings finally atop the NHL for the first time this season even if it is a short-lived experience.
Despite sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, Wednesday’s win was the Wings only victory in four games against Colorado this season. With the loss, Colorado extended its losing streak to six games, equaling a franchise-worst since they lost six straight in 1998.
Former Michigan State Spartan John-Michael Liles gave the Avs an early lead just 3:10 into the first period. It would take almost the rest of the period before the Wings would respond with a goal of their own at 19:41. Valtteri Filppula posted his second goal in as many games, which is a great sign for the Wings after he snapped an 18-game scoreless streak in Tuesday’s contest against the St. Louis Blues. Filppula’s goal was a beauty as he popped in a rebound off of a tough angle to the left of goaltender Andrew Raycroft. Tomas Kopecky keeps his offensive output going with an assist on the play and Nicklas Lidstrom got in on the action as well.
Detroit would score two more goals in the middle frame to grab a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission. At 7:03 into the second, Johan Franzen registered his 26th goal of the season when he brought the puck from the bottom right faceoff circle to the other side of the crease and with a slick move, beat Raycroft for the marker. Brett Lebda was given the assist.
Kris Draper would also score a goal in his second straight game, and seventh of the season, at 13:33 in the second. What makes this goal so great is that Derek Meech, who was pulled up from defense to forward in Marian Hossa‘s absence, and enforcer Aaron Downey notched assists on the play. In fact, 5,228 fans voted for the Wings’ player of the game and 55% of those FSDetroit viewers who voted picked Downey as the winner. It was the second straight game he won the honor. Clearly, he’s a fan favorite.
After the game, head coach Mike Babcock talked to FSDetroit reporter John Keating about the young defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who was brought up from Grand Rapids earlier this week. In 19:51 of ice time, Ericsson registered three shots, two hits, and two blocks, but did finish the night a minus-one. Even so, the 6’5″ defenseman has made quite the impression on Babcock.
“He’s good. He’s big. He can skate with the puck. He’ll be a Red Wing for a long, long time…. He does a lot of good things, seems real safe out there.”
Goaltender Ty Conklin stopped 25 shots in his first start since allowing four goals on nine shots in Saturday’s 8-0 loss to Nashville. Milan Hejduk would bring the Avs within one goal with under two minutes remaining in the game, but Conks made some key saves preventing Colorado from scoring the equalizer.