Reuters - Tue, 02 Mar 08:02:00 2010
Nicklas Lidstrom's third period goal lifted the Detroit Red Wings into play-off contention with a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
The Red Wings won the NHL's first game back after a two-week Olympic break when Lidstrom's powerplay wrist shot with 9:03 remaining ended Colorado's hopes of a come-from-behind victory.
"I thought we really played with some desperation in the third period," Lidstrom said. "Earlier in the season, we could have lost a game like tonight."
Detroit had taken a 2-0 advantage in the first period with scores from Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen before the Avalanche (35-21-6) tied the contest in the second when TJ Galiardi and Chris Stewart replied for the home team.
The win lifted the Red Wings (29-21-12) into eighth place in the Western Conference with the defending conference champions are hoping coach Mike Babcock will inspire a late-season run after leading Canada to a gold medal in Vancouver.
"We talked about it today, that we have to make a decision as to whether we want to get in (the playoffs)," Babcock said of a team that has reached the post-season in every year since 1990.
"We've got enough bodies now and with our line-up we should be a good hockey club. You can't win one, lose one. We have the ability and now we have to dig in and find a way and the determination to get it done."
The Red Wings got off to a poor start to the season while dealing with injuries but improved ahead of the break and will look to carry on winning.
Franzen was playing in his seventh game after missing 55 while recovering from knee surgery while Pavel Datsyuk recorded two assists.
One year after finishing bottom in the West, the Avalanche now sit sixth in the conference. Goaltender Craig Anderson has been a big reason for the turnaround and he finished with 27 saves.