DENVER, Colorado -- The Detroit-Colorado rivalry may not be what it used to be, having changed over the years from an intense hatred to a strong, if wary, respect. But it still brings out the best play in both teams, and even far away in Denver, there are Red Wings fans who will throw an octopus onto the Pepsi Center's ice to celebrate a 3-1 Detroit victory.
The Red Wings were well rested from their long weekend, and it showed in their eagerness to play. Detroit controlled the play through most of the first period. Colorado goalie Patrick Roy had to be sharp to keep the puck out of his net. He succeeded, stopping all twelve of the shots he faced through the first twenty minutes. Dominik Hasek responded in kind at the other end of the ice, stopping seven Avalanche shots to keep the game scoreless through twenty minutes.
The Avalanche scored early in the second period. Brad Larson centered the puck from behind the net. It bounced off Jesse Wallin's stick, and Scott Parker poked it into the net.
The rest of the second was all Red Wings, taking twenty shots to Colorado's four. Darren McCarty got Detroit on the scoreboard midway through the period. Sean Avery won the faceoff in Colorado's zone, and got the puck back to Kirk Maltby, who passed along the blue line to Jesse Wallin. Wallin fired and Roy deflected the shot, but McCarty was well-placed to gather up the rebound and slap it into the net.
McCarty wasn't done raising his team's momentum. As is appropriate in a Detroit-Colorado game, he got into a fight. Rick Berry had hit Igor Larionov with what McCarty viewed as unnecessary roughness, and McCarty was not willing to let this go unchallenged. The linesmen broke up the fight and sent both combatants to the penalty box for five minutes.
Avery followed suit before too long, scrapping with Dan Hinote over an interference penalty to Wallin. The fighting majors to Avery and Hinote offset each other, but Wallin's initial penalty gave the Avalanche a two-minute man advantage.
It did them no good whatsoever. The two Colorado defensemen attempted to pass the puck to each other along Detroit's blue line to set up a play, but Kris Draper intercepted the pass and broke out of the zone, getting halfway down the ice before the Avalanche realized what had happened. Draper's initial shot on net was turned away by Roy, but Maltby came trailing the play and sent the rebound over Roy's right arm to put the Red Wings in the lead.
The Avalanche came back hard in the third period. Detroit concentrated on their defense, but still needed Hasek to make several dazzling saves, and he seemed happy to oblige them. The Red Wings took total control of the game in the last minute, keeping Roy from edging out of the net to let the sixth skater into the play. When Colorado finally got the puck into Detroit's end, Chris Chelios made a simple poke check to get it away. Nick Lidstrom sent it down the ice on a nicely centered clearing shot which went directly into the empty net, to the delight of the octopus-bearing Red Wings fan.
Shots on net wound up thirty-four to twenty-four in Detroit's favor, and neither team was able to score on the power play. The Red Wings will return home to face the New York Rangers Wednesday night at the Joe.
Notes: Jesse Wallin's assist was his first career NHL point. Steve Yzerman expects to be recovered from his knee surgery in time to play with the team against Montreal on February 11, giving him two games with the Wings before the Olympic break.