DENVER – Ty Conklin laughed off his last outing, refusing to dwell on one bad performance.
The Detroit goalie was much sharper Wednesday night, making 25 saves to help the Red Wings take the overall NHL lead with a 3-2 victory over the faltering Colorado Avalanche. Conklin gave up four goals in just 10 minutes of work in an 8-0 loss to Nashville last week. He simply shrugged it off.
“My confidence wasn’t affected, I’ve felt good about my game pretty much all year,” Conklin said. “You have those kind of nights.”
Not to mention these kind of nights.
Conklin turned back a late flurry of shots in front of the net to preserve the win. He even had a puck bounce right into his lap in the closing seconds, with Avalanche players crashing in all around him.
“Just kind of lucked out,” he said.
The Stanley Cup champion Red Wings won for the fourth time in five games to reach 94 points, one more than San Jose and Eastern Conference-leading Boston.
For the record, they’re paying attention to the standings – real close attention.
“You want to try to stay up there,” Johan Franzen said. “I think we are starting to play better and better.”
The Red Wings were without goal leader Marian Hossa on Wednesday night.
He sat out with a sore neck and knee after he was injured the night before in St. Louis when he slammed into the end boards and had to be carried off the ice on a gurney.
Although the 30-year-old Hossa was hospitalized for observation, he accompanied the team to Colorado and is listed as day to day.
“It looked really scary,” said Franzen, who scored his 26th goal of the season. “When he fell into the boards, it looked like his head took a lot of weight.
“The good thing is he’s OK.”
Colorado dropped its sixth straight game, matching the longest skid since the team relocated to Denver in 1995-96. The last time the Avalanche dropped six in a row was late in the 1998 season when they were on their way to wrapping up a division title.
The last-place Avalanche have a losing record this late in the season for the first time since the franchise arrived in the Mile High City.
“We aren’t putting together complete games,” Paul Stastny said. “We have to do better than play out the string.
“We have to give a good effort.”
John-Michael Liles and Milan Hejduk scored for Colorado.
The Avalanche pulled goalie Andrew Raycroft with 52 seconds remaining, but couldn’t tie the game as Conklin came up big.
“You have to play 60 minutes against a team like that and we didn’t,” Ian Laperriere said.
Detroit has struggled with the Avalanche this season, going 1-3 in the series. But the Wings opened up the game with a two-goal second period as Franzen and Draper each scored.
Liles gave the Avalanche an early 1-0 lead, scoring 2:57 into the game. It was his eighth goal of the season.
The Wings tied it late in the first period when Valtteri Filppula flipped a shot over a sprawled-out Raycroft.
Filppula’s goal came with the clock malfunctioning, the announcer counting down the time for the final minute. Filppula’s eighth goal of the season happened with 19 seconds remaining.
“I’ve had trouble scoring goals,” said Filppula, who has scored in consecutive games after going 18 without. “I’ll take goals against anyone right now.”
Notes: The Avalanche became sellers at the trade deadline, sending D Jordan Leopold to Calgary. The team picked up defencemen Lawrence Nycholat and Ryan Wilson, plus a second-round pick in the 2009 draft. … Red Wings F Aaron Downey had scratches on his knuckles a day after his epic fight with St. Louis F Cam Janssen. The bout went on for several minutes, drawing a huge ovation from the crowd. “I know my hands are pretty sore,” Downey said. … The Avalanche played their league-leading 35th one-goal game of the season. They’re 20-14-1. … Colorado had its seventh sellout of the season.