Red Wings brace for visit from streaking Avs

NHL Hockey
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The Colorado Avalanche play just one home game until March 11. The way they’re performing on the road, that’s actually a pleasant prospect.

They’re one of the NHL’s hottest teams and have turned into road warriors in recent weeks. They’ve won eight straight road games and carry a six-game overall winning streak into Detroit on Monday.

Every game during the six-game surge to close out their February schedule was low scoring and tight. Colorado’s last five wins have come by a single goal, including three consecutive 3-2 triumphs.

The latest came on Saturday at Nashville. Goalie Pavel Francouz made 30 saves as the Avs tied their season high for consecutive wins.

“It was good that we dug in and got the two points,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “It was a little bit of a strange game at times, but our penalty kill held us in there, (Francouz) held us in and we got a couple of timely goals.”

That’s been the recipe for success. Francouz has been in net the last six games. Their defense has been so stout that they haven’t needed many goals. Colorado hasn’t scored more than three in any game since a 4-1 victory at Ottawa on Feb. 6.

Gabriel Landeskog, who scored against the Predators, believes the Avs’ ability to overcome hostile crowds will serve them well through the playoffs. Colorado currently sits in second place in the Central Division, trailing only the defending champion St. Louis Blues.

“It is funny how it works,” Landeskog said to “When you win on the road it seems to bring the group that much closer together. Coming into April and May and hopefully June as well, it is going to be important that we are close-knit group and stick together through the ups and downs.”

The Avs had a rare offensive outburst in their first meeting with Detroit on Jan. 20, securing a 6-3 home victory behind two goals and an assist from Nazem Kadri.

The Red Wings are saddled with a five-game winless streak but they did get a point on Saturday in a 4-3 shootout loss at Ottawa. Sam Gagner, acquired from Edmonton earlier in the week, scored his first Detroit goal on a third-period power play.

Gagner redirected a Filip Hronek shot.

“We knew coming in he’s a power-play specialist,” center Dylan Larkin said to “It was a great goal. He showed in practice he can (tip) pucks from anywhere. … That’s a play where Fil gets the puck and just looks for his stick and that’s what he did. He’s great around the net, great hands and I was really happy to see him get that goal.”

The Wings played with much more determination than their previous outing, when they were blown out at home by Minnesota, 7-1.

“The one thing we can control is our compete level and willingness to dig in and I thought we did a way better job of that (Saturday),” Gagner said. “Obviously, Bernie (Jonathan Bernier) made some key saves for us but I thought our game was a lot better, our compete was a lot higher, and it’s a good sign and just got to keep pushing forward here.”

–Field Level Media

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