Leopold shines in shootout as Avalanche edge Red Wings

DETROIT (Ticker) — The Colorado Avalanche are not in a
desirable position in the Western Conference playoff picture,
but they seemingly know how to handle one of the league’s

Defenseman Jordan Leopold scored the game-winning goal in the
fifth round of a shootout as the Avalanche skated past the
Detroit Red Wings for the third straight time this season, 6-5,
on Sunday.

Wojtek Wolski also tallied in the bonus format, Ian Laperriere,
Milan Hejduk and Ben Guite each scored a goal and set up another
in regulation and blue-liner Ruslan Salei and Marek Svatos
registered goals as Colorado snapped a four-game skid.

In the previous two meetings this season, the Avalanche posted a
3-2 road victory on December 15 and then claimed a 4-3 shootout
win nearly two weeks later. Against the rest of the NHL, they
are 23-30-1.

“I wouldn’t say tonight was as good a game as the previous two,”
said Colorado defenseman Adam Foote, who returned to the lineup
after missing a month with a triceps injury.

“Maybe they play a little too wide-open against us. I’m not
sure. Sometimes in a game like that where it’s wide open, you
forget about the little defensive plays. We did it as much as
they did.”

Henrik Zetterberg scored in the shootout, Daniel Cleary and
Marian Hossa netted a pair of tallies in regulation and Jiri
Hudler also scored for the Red Wings, who have dropped two in a

“We’re in this together,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
“We’re trying to do the best we can to get rolling going into
the playoffs and goaltending is a part of that. Obviously, the
puck’s going in the net way too much.”

Pavel Datsyuk opened the shootout by firing a wrist shot that
sailed wide of the net and Wolski gave the Avalanche an early
edge by beating Chris Osgood with a backhanded shot. Zetterberg
pulled Detroit even as Zetterberg used a deke and a hard
backhander to solve Andrew Raycroft before Svatos’ wrister was

After Hudler’s backhander was turned aside by Raycroft, Hejduk
was unable to slide his shot under the extended pads of Osgood
along the right goalpost. Raycroft denied Hossa’s wrister to
open the fourth round of the bonus format and Osgood followed
suit, stoning Ryan Smyth on his attempt.

After Raycroft stopped Cleary’s snap shot, Leopold secured the
triumph with a hard wrister in his first career shootout

“‘Leo’ is one of the guys we’ve had in our back pocket for quite
a while as the fourth or fifth shooter,” Avalanche coach Tony
Granato said. “He had a penalty shot goal the last time we were
in here and he’s good in practice in those situations. We told
him to be ready to be one of the extra shooters. He made a nice

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Raycroft finished with 40 saves in his second start in eight
contests for Colorado, which had scored just five goals combined
in its previous slide.

“You play everybody different, but the biggest thing is you have
to stay patient and stay calm,” Raycroft said. “You have to
keep a good position and yet keep a gap between myself and the
player. I did a pretty good job of that and sometimes you get
lucky and the pucks just hit you.”

Hudler fired a slap shot from the left faceoff circle to hand
the Red Wings a 5-4 lead at 9:18 of the third period. However,
Hejduk capped the resilient Avalanche’s comeback heroics by
forging a tie just over three minutes later.

“We didn’t find a way after we scored (to make it 5-4),” Hossa
said. “We started defending a little too much when we probably
should have kept going after them. There were lots of changes
in momentum going into this game.”

Laperriere opened the scoring 16 seconds into the first period
and Salei doubled the lead at 23 seconds of the second before
the Red Wings used a pair of power-play tallies from Cleary in a
26-second span four minutes later to even the game.

“There were lots of bounces, lots of tips, lots of pucks going
all over the place,” Raycroft said. “That’s what they do well.
They put pucks on the net and they have great sticks (for
deflections). When we go up 1-0 on the first shift and 2-0
early in the second, you know they’re going to start putting
pucks on the net.

“They’re going to draw penalties and you’re going to have to
make some saves.”

Hossa gave Detroit a 3-2 advantage at 8:58 of the session, but
Svatos pulled the Avalanche even with a power-play goal 61
seconds into the third.

Raycroft was solved again as Hossa notched his 33rd tally of the
season at 3:33 of the period. However, Guite converted passes
from Cody McCormick and Laperriere three minutes later to forge
a 4-4 tie.

“There’s no excuses for us,” Hudler said. “At home we’ve got to
put more pressure on them.”

Osgood made 23 saves for the Red Wings, who had recorded a
five-game winning streak prior to slipping into their current

“I like the way a lot of things went during the game, but I
don’t like talking about losing,” Babcock said. “The bottom
line is you won’t win in the playoffs winning games, 6-5.”