Leopold shines in shootout as Avalanche edge Red Wings - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Leopold shines in shootout as Avalanche edge Red Wings

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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

powerhouses.

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

row.

"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

unsuccessful.

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

attempt.

"'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

shot."

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

swoon.

"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."

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