DETROIT – Niklas Kronwall’s shot from the blue line went wide, then caromed back off the boards just as goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere was extending his right leg.
The puck bounced off Giguere’s skate and into the net, giving the Detroit Red Wings a fluky but important goal.
“I couldn’t really find a lane through to the net, so I tried to get it somewhat close,” Kronwall said. “That was a first.”
Kronwall’s goal in the second period ended up being decisive when the Red Wings held on for a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. Johan Franzen also scored for Detroit, and Jimmy Howard made 36 saves.
“The difference was really a couple of bounces for them and one hot goalie for them,” Giguere said.
Colorado trailed 2-0 when Paul Stastny spoiled Howard’s bid for a shutout, scoring with 1:30 to play in the third.
Detroit has gone four straight games without allowing a goal in the first or second period, but the Avalanche had their share of chances in this one. Howard needed to be sharp on several occasions.
“This was our loosest game in the last while,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “To win on a nightly basis, you can’t leave your goalie like that as much as we did.”
Detroit was coming off a shootout loss to Chicago on Sunday—after the Red Wings came within 2:02 of handing the Blackhawks their first regulation loss of the season.
They almost blew a late lead in this one too, but Colorado wasn’t able to tie it up. The Avalanche nearly had a fortunate bounce of their own in the final seconds when a shot went wide and caromed off the boards out to Matt Duchene in front of the net. But Duchene couldn’t beat Howard.
After the final buzzer, a frustrated Duchene broke his stick into three pieces when he slammed it against the empty net Colorado had been defending, then threw the rest of the stick down on the ice.
The rivalry between Detroit and Colorado isn’t quite as heated as it used to be, and the first period Tuesday passed without a goal or a penalty.
Franzen gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead in the second when he got his stick on a Colorado shot from the point and then immediately began skating up the ice. Damien Brunner controlled the puck and sent a pass to Franzen, who went in alone and beat Giguere high to the glove side.
Kronwall’s goal with 2:28 left in the period was more bizarre. His shot missed to the left of the net, but it bounced back and in off Giguere.
Howard made 36 saves. The most acrobatic of them came early in the third, when he stretched all the way out on his side to stop John Mitchell in front of the net. Mitchell had been left alone and had time to pull the puck to his backhand, but after manoeuvring around Howard, he couldn’t put the puck past him.
“It was just one of those things. You do it in practice, never give up on pucks in practice,” Howard said. “Sometimes in games you come up with it.”
Howard later stopped P.A. Parenteau on a breakaway.
“He was incredible tonight,” Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog said. “We played a good game. We did everything we could do except score.”
The Red Wings wasted a chance when they failed to take advantage of a two-man advantage in the third. The 5-on-3 situation began after Colorado’s Chuck Kobasew was called for boarding Brendan Smith—a hit that led to the first hint of a scuffle all night.
NOTES: Giguere made 31 saves for the Avalanche, who will have to turn around and play at Chicago on Wednesday night.