The Detroit Red Wings got a much-needed 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche in front of a sold-out Coors Field with 50,095 fans on hand in Saturday’s Stadium Series contest in Denver.
Brad Richards broke a 3-3 tie to score the game-winner with one minute remaining, with his shot ricocheting in off the edge of Semyon Varlamov's stick as the Avalanche goalie fell backward.
Colorado then went to an empty net in the final 60 seconds, positioning Detroit's Darren Helm to nail in the dagger with 20 seconds remaining.
Here is a look at Richards’ remarkable goal, via Mike Shaw of the Hockey Writers:
Throughout Saturday’s thrilling contest, it felt as though it would take the full 60 minutes to decide the winner as the teams tied or traded the lead seven times.
With 8:32 remaining, the Red Wings reclaimed a 3-2 lead when Justin Abdelkader redirected a pass from Helm and netted a goal past Varlamov.
|Avalanche vs. Red Wings—Box Score|
But just 14 seconds later, Colorado left wing Alex Tanguay responded and tied the game at 3-3. In the process, he passed Valeri Kamensky for the seventh-most goals in franchise history, per Sportsnet Stats.
The Avs tweeted in admiration:
Tomas Tatar broke the ice with the game’s first goal a little more than five minutes into the opening period.
Varlamov fended off a shot after a faceoff in Colorado territory, but Tatar showed resiliency and scored on his second attempt, as NHL on NBC showed:
And here is an overhead look at Tatar’s 17th goal of the season, which snapped an eight-game pointless streak, via Brad Galli of WXYZ-TV in Detroit:
The Avs quickly responded, though. Just a few minutes later, Nathan MacKinnon surged down the ice with a steam of momentum, powering through the Detroit defense and scoring from way out to tie the game with 12:15 remaining in the first period.
The puck flew past goalie Petr Mrazek, who seemed to have no time to react. Here is a look at the play, courtesy of the NHL:
Tyson Barrie powered the Avs to a 2-1 lead with a remarkable fake, creating an open lane when Mrazek maneuvered to try to block what he thought to be a shot attempt.
Here is a look at the shifty shot, via the NHL:
The Avs headed to the locker room—or clubhouse—maintaining a 2-1 edge after the first period, at which point The Fray made an appearance, as Michelle Tuckner of 104.3 The Fan in Denver showed:
The second period was relatively quiet. Neither team scored again until Gustav Nyquist tied the game at 2-2 just after the puck dropped in the third.
Defended by Barrie, Nyquist slapped in the goal with his back to the net, as the Red Wings showed:
There was a slight delay in the third period when the fake snow—it was 65 degrees and clear in Denver on Saturday—flurried onto the ice and into the crowd, as NHL on NBC showed:
Each team took 27 shots, and the Avs seemed to have an answer for every Red Wings score. But the clock struck midnight, leaving the Avs in the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference at 32-28-4. The Red Wings retained the East’s top wild-card spot at 31-20-11, just ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Both teams are on the cusp of the postseason and demonstrated a playoff-caliber performance Saturday.
MacKinnon and Barrie were in awe of the sold-out crowd at the home of MLB’s Colorado Rockies, per the Avalanche:
Head coach Patrick Roy said participating in the Stadium Series was a great opportunity but wished the outcome had steered in Colorado’s favor, per Tuckner:
Roy also said he believed the Avs were going to score after Richards' goal with just one minute remaining, per Dan Rosen of NHL.com.
Winds reached close to 15 miles per hour, which sent the fake snow flurrying. Mrazek offered a quip on the incident, per Rosen, given it was the NHL’s warmest outdoor regular-season game in history:
The Avs play again Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild, while the Red Wings resume Monday against the Dallas Stars.