DENVER – Wojtek Wolski thought about unveiling a dazzling new move for the shootout, just to become more unpredictable.
Why mess with a good thing, though? Wolski scored the lone goal in the shootout on a nifty move, and Peter Budaj stopped all three shots in the tiebreaker, lifting the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night. Wolski is 6-for-7 in shootouts this season.
This move, though, is a goalie’s nightmare. With his long reach and lengthy stick, he acts as if he’s going far to the right, only to pull it back left. Ty Conklin was sprawled out on the ice as Wolski effortlessly guided the puck into the net to help the Avalanche improve to 7-1 in shootouts this season.
“That’s one I’ve kind of used a couple of times – I usually try to do it on goalies I haven’t seen,” he said. “I tried to stick to the basics, go with a move that I’m comfortable with and has worked in the past.”
Conklin certainly thought it was a good move, frozen by his juke.
“I was looking for him to go across the net and he didn’t,” said Conklin, who made 29 saves as he started in net for the fifth straight game with Chris Osgood mending a strained groin.
Budaj turned back Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler to finish off a frenzied night in net. He stopped 41 goals, some of the splendid variety.
Like turning back Hudler late in regulation when the Detroit left winger had the puck near the goal crease. Budaj slid over and thwarted the shot.
“I was able to see the puck pretty good today,” Budaj said.
Ruslan Salei, Ryan Smyth and John-Michael Liles scored power-play goals to stake Colorado to a 3-0 lead after the opening period.
Only Detroit stormed back as Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen scored in the second period to tie the game.
They also dominated the third period, but couldn’t sneak anything past Budaj as they lost for the second straight night.
“We battled back and fought all the way through,” Zetterberg said.
The Avalanche’s three power-play goals in the first tied a franchise record for a period, the 11th time they’ve equalled the mark.
Despite the lead, Avalanche coach Tony Granato was wary.
“You knew it was going to be an entertaining game, you knew they were going to be able to make plays,” Granato said. “It would have been nice to get it done in regulation, but we feel pretty happy with the way the game was played.”
The Avalanche found some offensive firepower – at least for a period – despite injuries to leading scorer Paul Stastny (fractured arm) and captain Joe Sakic (back and hand). Stastny broke his right forearm in a 5-4 overtime win against Phoenix on Tuesday night and is out indefinitely.
Sakic will be sidelined for at least three months after undergoing surgery to repair three broken fingers and tendon damage following a snow blower accident.
“We’re disappointed they are out, but we’ll try our best to win games and stay in the playoff hunt,” Wolski said.
Budaj certainly stepped up big, especially in the shootout.
Although, he felt fortunate that Datsyuk’s shot clanged off the post and bounced away.
“He beat me, but he didn’t beat the post,” he said.
Budaj wasn’t expecting to see Hudler take the final attempt in the shootout, figuring it would be Marian Hossa.
“That was a big adjustment for me,” he said.
Hudler went with a wrist shot that Budaj stopped with his chest as the Avalanche won at home for the sixth time in seven games.
“Budaj kept us in there,” Smyth said.
Just long enough for Wolski to work his stick magic in the shootout.
“Goalies are starting to look at what I’m doing, and every time I do (a shootout attempt), it gets harder,” Wolski said.
Right now, though, he’s making it look easy.
Notes: The Red Wings were without captain Nicklas Lidstrom after he took a puck off his ankle in the second period in a loss in Nashville on Friday night. … Avalanche RW Marek Svatos was back in the lineup after missing six games with a back ailment. … Detroit falls to 4-1 in shootouts.