Ryan O'Reilly scored two goals and Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Detroit Red Wings, 4-2, at Pepsi Center in Denver Sunday night. It was the third-straight game with at least a goal for O'Reilly, and he now has recorded four goals and seven points in his last three contests.
Entering Sunday's contest, the Red Wings were the NHL's hottest team, having won seven consecutive games while outscoring their opponents 28-12.
Prior to their current two-game winning streak, Colorado had been conversely ice cold, having a terrible 4-11-1 mark in the 16 preceding games.
Early in the game with Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula in the box, Chris Conner, playing in just his second game of the year, got a shorthanded breakaway. He attempted to send a backhander through the five hole of Varlamov, who closed the pads to thwart the Detroit scoring opportunity.
The Red Wings opened the scoring late in the opening frame. With Quincey in the penalty box and the Wings on a power play, Pavel Datsyuk started the play by trying a shot from the right circle. It was blocked right back to him. He retrieved the puck, skated in towards the goal, then sent a backhanded pass through the legs of defenseman Jan Hejda to Johan Franzen. "The Mule" snapped a shot into the open side of the net for his 12th of the season at 15:08 to help Detroit carry a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
It didn't take Colorado long to knot the contest up as the second commenced. Landeskog stole the puck from Red Wings defender Ian White to the left of Ty Conklin, and fed O'Reilly breaking in on Conklin's right. O'Reilly beat the Detroit goaltender high to the blocker side for his fifth of the year at the 26 second mark to tie the game at 1-1.
Wings' blueliner Jonathan Ericsson was assessed a cross checking minor just 17 seconds later, and the Avalanche would take advantage to grab the lead. On a broken play, Matt Duchene sent a pass from the left wing side through the Detroit crease. The puck appeared to be deflected by the stick of David Jones just in front of Conklin, and came to rest just short of the goal line. Paul Stastny, who has been mired in a scoring slump, outworked Nicklas Lidstrom and got position, then rammed the loose puck into the Red Wings' net for a 2-1 Colorado lead. It was Stastny's eighth of the season, first in the last four games, and just his third goal in his last 11 contests.
Stastny would leave the game early in the third period with an injury.
Though badly outplayed in the second, Detroit came close to tying it up in the latter stages of the frame. Lidstrom had a chance from the slot in the last 30 seconds, but his shot went just wide to the left of the Avalanche net.
The two Colorado goals in the period were the fruits of a dominating middle stanza for the Avs, as they outshot the Red Wings by a 19-4 count.
Detroit tied the game a little over five minutes into the third. Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck through the slot and as he neared the right faceoff circle, launched a backhander towards the Avalanche net. Daniel Cleary was stationed in front of Varlamov and deftly deflected the puck up and over the Colorado netminders left shoulder to even the score at 2-2.
It looked as though the much more experienced Wings were about to show the young Avalanche squad how to take over a game and garner a win, especially when Colorado defenseman Ryan Wilson was called for cross checking Justin Abdelkader at 7:24.
After weathering some Detroit pressure, it was the Avs' penalty killing unit that went to work. As the Red Wings' power play was nearing its end, Landeskog stole the puck at center ice and broke into the Detroit zone down the left wing side. He sent a pass to the slot where T.J. Galiardi one-timed a shot past Conklin just two ticks of the clock before the Colorado penalty was set to expire. Galiardi's tally was just his third of the year and first shorthanded, but it would prove to be his second game-winner.
With Conklin pulled for an extra attacker, the Wings came close to getting one past Varlamov in the game's last minute. After a frantic goal mouth scramble, the puck ended up under the goalie, who was on his back and very near to the goal line. However, there was no definitive proof that the shot ever crossed the line.
Shortly after the ensuing faceoff, Jay McClement set up O'Reilly for the clinching empty netter to seal the triumph.