DENVER (AP) — Johan Franzen broke a tie in the second period, Ty Conklin stopped 29 shots and the Detroit Red Wings beat Colorado 3-0 on Saturday to spoil a night in which the Avalanche retired the jersey of Peter Forsberg.
Henrik Zetterberg scored in the third period and Pavel Datsyuk added a late empty-net goal for the Red Wings, who showed no signs of fatigue playing in the second game of a back-to-back to begin the season.
Conklin was sensational in net as he filled in for Jimmy Howard, who played the night before in Detroit’s win over Ottawa. It was Conklin’s first shutout since last February.
Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves in his Avalanche debut. Varlamov was acquired from Washington over the summer to shore up the team’s deficiencies in net.
In a pregame ceremony, the Avs raised a banner with Forsberg’s name and number to the Pepsi Center rafters, where it will hang alongside those of Joe Sakic (19), Patrick Roy (33) and Ray Bourque (77).
Colorado sure could’ve used Forsberg’s scoring touch on this night.
The Red Wings neutralized an Avalanche squad that has historically been exceptional on opening night, boasting the best winning percentage of any team in the league.
Zetterberg scored a nifty goal in the third period on a well executed give-and-go from Datsyuk. After dropping a pass back to Datsyuk, Zetterberg got it right back and caught Varlamov out of position.
Later, with Varlamov pulled for an extra skater, Datsyuk added the clincher.
Franzen put the Wings on the scoreboard first with a laser shot over the left shoulder of Varlamov late in the second period. The goal was set up by a drop pass from Jiri Hudler, who froze the defenders and opened up a lane for Franzen.
The goal came after Varlamov made a slew of saves, including one in which he stopped a wrist shot from Drew Miller on a breakaway.
It was a memorable night for 18-year-old rookie Gabriel Landeskog, who made his NHL debut in front of his boyhood idol Forsberg. Landeskog, the second overall pick in the draft last June, was bottled up most of the night, but did put a handful of shots on net.
Both teams had chances to get on the board in the first period, but couldn’t convert. The Red Wings failed to capitalize on three early power plays.
The fans showed up at the rink more than an hour before the puck dropped to watch the ceremony for Forsberg, who remains a fan favorite.
The Swedish star entered the arena by walking through the stands, shaking hands as he made his way onto the ice. He stepped onto a burgundy carpet that had been placed along the surface and did a lap around the rink, greeting teammates along the way.
“Unbelievable,” the usually stoic Forsberg said of the ceremony. “I will forever remember this.”
In his prime, Forsberg was one of the best two-way players in the NHL. He helped Colorado to Stanley Cup titles in 1996 and 2001 along with winning the league MVP award in 2003.
He attempted a comeback with the Avs last season, but called it a career after two games because of a chronic foot ailment.
Notes: Before the game, Colorado held a tribute for former players Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins. They were among those who died in the Russian plane crash that decimated the Locomotiv Yaroslavl team in early September. The organization also honored Wade Belak, who hanged himself in Toronto on Aug. 31. Belak played in Colorado for parts of three seasons. … In the middle of the game, the Avs announced a trade that sent D Kyle Cumiskey to the Anaheim Ducks for D Jake Newton and a conditional draft pick. Newton will report to Lake Erie of the AHL. Cumiskey cleared waivers earlier in the day and was set to be reassigned. … Red Wings F Tomas Holmstrom was a healthy scratch.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)