The Detroit Red Wings dropped a close game to the Colorado Avalanche in the prequel to the upcoming outdoor game scheduled for mid-March at Coors Field in Denver.
The Wings dominated the contest from the opening faceoff, leading in shots 13-4 while the Avalanche blocked many potential pucks from getting through.
However it was the Avalanche that struck first on the scoreboard, with Matt Duchene finishing a great Mikhail Grigorenko pass.
Just past the four-minute mark of the second period, Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson fired a long wrist shot that found its way past goalie Semyon Varlamov.
5:30 into the final period, Blake Comeau broke the tie after the puck floated into the slot where he quickly put past Petr Mrazek.
At the midway mark of the third, captain Henrik Zetterberg chipped a backhand pass toward the net, of which Justin Abdelkader redirected it to Pavel Datsyuk, who deked Varlamov with a backhand before scoring. The goal marked point number 899 for the veteran forward.
In the game’s final minutes of regulation the Red Wings had a flurry of chances with the prime scoring chance coming to Darren Helm. Helm tried to score on a wraparound, got his own rebound, and nearly succeeded on a one-timer if not for Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie blocking the pass as Varlamov regained his positioning.
Three minutes into 3-on-3 overtime, Tomas Tatar fed Gustav Nyquist with a slick pass through two defensemen. Nyquist tried to slide the puck through the five-hole, but Varlamov had his stick ready for the Swedish forward’s signature move.
In the shootout, Dylan Larkin and Gabriel Landeskog were stopped before Pavel Datsyuk scored the first goal on a backhand-forehand move.
Duchene and Richards were stopped before Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon saved the game, freezing Mrazek with a quick backhand to forehand deke.
Blake Comeau then wristed the puck glove-side to end the game and give Colorado the win.
Detroit had a CorsiFor of 87 shots while Colorado had only 35. Detroit also dominated the faceoff circle, winning 31 draws to Colorado’s 18 (63%).
“It’s tough but it’s how it goes sometimes,” said Abdelkader. “I thought we did a lot of good things out there, had some good chances. Varlamov made some good saves when he had to there. I think it’s a positive step in the right direction here tonight. Unfortunately a little breakdown on their second goal but we found a way to tie it up and had a lot of chances all night.”
The penalty kill went 3-for-3 on the night, something the team needs to work on the most as they are still in the bottom-15 in the league in the category.
“We’re doing our best to block shots, get in lanes and obviously Petr is a huge part of our kill and he’s been outstanding,” said Luke Glendening of the PK efforts. “Yeah, you’re happy when you get a kill but we still have a long way to go.”
The shootout loss gives Detroit a much-needed point in the standings, giving them sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division behind the Florida Panthers.
Next Game: Sunday vs. Boston Bruins @ 3:30 ET