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Five Takeaways: Colorado Avalanche Score at Key Times to Dump Wings

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Filip Zadina, Detroit Red Wings
Filip Zadina scored his 7th goal of the season in the Detroit Red Wings' 5-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche have been the betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup since last August and the Detroit Red Wings understand why. The Red Wings have played the Avs twice this season and have been outscored 12-5.

The Avalanche didn’t have injured Nathan MacKinnon. But they didn’t need him. They used five even-strength goals, two by Gabriel Landeskog, to down Detroit 5-2 in their meeting Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena. The Avs won 7-3 in their first meeting in Denver.

Detroit’s Dylan Larkin played and registered two assists to extend his point streak to eight games. He has 16 points during the streak.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

What if?

The Colorado Avalanche have the NHL’s best record. They won the game because they were the better team. But the Red Wings probably came away frustrated because they had opportunities to be in this game and couldn’t take advantage.

They put themselves in a hole with a poor start. The Avs controlled the puck for 45 or more seconds before Gabriel Landeskog scored 1:12 into the game. It was 2-0 just after the halfway mark. But the Red Wings believed they would get scoring chances. “It didn’t seem insurmountable,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said.

It was 2-1 game in the second period. But on a power play chance, the Red Wings hit the crossbar and also slid a shot off the post. Pucks were lying in the Colorado goal crease only to be swept away by Avs players before Detroit could get to them.

The Red Wings outshot the Avs 33-31 in the game. Yet they only managed two goals against backup goalie Pavel Francouz.

“We had opportunities to score more and we didn’t,” Blashill said.

Turning Point

The Red Wings were pushing hard for the tying goal, feeling some momentum, and then Nazem Kadri scored a goal with 1:41 left in the period. Didn’t look like it was going to be a dangerous play. But there was a mistake and the puck was in the net.

“They scored goals at the important times,” Detroit captain Dylan Larkin said.

The Red Wings needed an important save or a timely goal and couldn’t get it. That’s why Colorado is the favorite to win the Cup and the Red Wings are in a steep uphill fight to make the playoffs.

What Happened in the First Minutes

Five days between games, two days off. It’s hard to stay sharp, even though the Red Wings had hard practices leading up to this game. The quirkiness of this schedule, with long layoffs, didn’t help the Red Wings.

“It was very difficult, especially against a team like that,” Larkin said, adding “there was some rust.”

Calder Chase

Even in an exceptional field, Detroit defenseman Moritz Seider should be the favorite for the Calder Trophy. He had two assists for his sixth multipoint game.

He leads all rookies with 32 assists. Seider has 37 points in 52 games while serving as Detroit’s No. 1 defenseman. He hits, defends and quarterbacks the power play. Which rookie is doing more for his team than Seider?

Seider has a five-game scoring streak. He has eight points and is +5 during the streak.

Tough Road Ahead

The Red Wings’ schedule gets worse, not better. They play at home against Toronto Saturday, and then Carolina on Tuesday. Then it’s two road games against Tampa Bay and Florida, followed by a home game against Arizona, followed by games against Minnesota and Calgary.  With the exception of the Arizona contest, Detroit will be facing a Stanley Cup contender in each of those games.

This stretch will decide whether the Red Wings can be a factor in the playoff race. “We have to find a way to give up less goals,” Blashill said.

The Red Wings can’t give up four goals and beat any of those contenders they face this week and next.

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