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The Colorado Avalanche failed to take advantage of a fast start in their latest game at the Pepsi Center, suffering an overtime loss that added to their recent struggles at home.
Those woes might not end Monday night with the red-hot Detroit Red Wings coming to town.
Detroit will try to win seven consecutive road games for the fifth time in franchise history by sending the Avalanche to their third straight defeat in Denver.
Colorado, 2-5-2 since a season-best six-game win streak, seemed headed toward a much-needed victory Saturday against the New York Islanders. The Avalanche scored twice in the first 1:47, but needed Milan Hejduk’s second goal with 4 seconds left to force an extra period. They couldn’t capitalize, as the Islanders finished off a 4-3 win with 1:08 left in OT.
The loss dropped Colorado to 1-4-2 at home since a 7-0-1 stretch there. The Avs are 1-2-1 on a five-game homestand.
Poor penalty killing was a major culprit in the latest defeat. The Avs gave up three power-play goals – two in the first period – after limiting opponents to 1 for 21 with the man advantage over the previous five games.
“We shouldn’t be in that position – down a goal – especially since we had the momentum,” said Hejduk, who scored for the first time since returning from a groin injury Dec. 27. “All of a sudden, we took some penalties and they scored some power-play goals. Then the momentum was on their side for most of the game.”
Colorado (21-15-6) could have another difficult time in its final matchup of the season with Detroit (27-10-5), which has won three straight to open a five-game trip and has gone 13-3-1 in its last 17 trips to Denver.
The Red Wings moved to 6-1-1 in their last eight with a second consecutive shootout victory, 2-1 over Northwest Division-leading Vancouver on Saturday night.
The hot stretch has come despite Detroit losing three of its top seven goal scorers – Dan Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula – to injury. Defenseman Brad Stuart, forward Mike Modano and backup goaltender Chris Osgood are also out with health issues.
After posting a 3.31 goals-against average in his previous 12 games, Jimmy Howard stopped 34 shots and all three shootout attempts against the Canucks. Henrik Zetterberg extended his point streak to 10 games by assisting on Johan Franzen’s tying power-play goal in the third period.
“Obviously, we’ve got some good players missing,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We just talked about if we could hang around, hang around, we’d have a chance at the end and that’s what we tried to do. Just keep it close and keep it tight and we got good goaltending out of Howard.”
Zetterberg has five goals and nine assists during his run, which he kept going by setting up Niklas Kronwall’s overtime goal in a 4-3 victory at Colorado on Dec. 27. That capped the Avalanche’s previous homestand, also five games.
Nicklas Lidstrom matched his career high for points with a goal and three assists as the Red Wings moved to 4-0-1 in their last five overall against the Avs.
Lidstrom has recorded a point in each of those games, totaling two goals and nine assists. Detroit lost the first meeting of the season 5-4 in a shootout Oct. 12 and won 3-1 on Nov. 13.
The Red Wings haven’t won seven straight on the road since a franchise-best 12-game run March 1-April 15, 2006.
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