Nostalgia brings good effort from Red Wings but not a win
The game played Monday night at Little Caesars Arena was more than just another game, and another loss, for the Red Wings.
Despite the fact that it’s been more than 20 years since the glory days of the Red Wings-Colorado Avalanche rivalry, there’s still intensity when the two teams face off.
Only three goals were scored Monday night, so there was nothing to remind anyone of the rivalry’s offensive firepower, which included superstars like Sergei Fedorov, Peter Forsberg, Brendan Shanahan and the two captains back in those days – Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic – who now are the general managers of their respective squads.
But it was a physical contest that Colorado – which has made its way back to being one of the NHL’s best teams – won 2-1.
“I felt the energy from the start,” Dylan Larkin said. “Every time Colorado comes in here, it’s great energy.”
The game was also a “ ’90s Night” promotion by the Red Wings, featuring Stanley Cup heroes such as Darren McCarty and FOX Sports Detroit’s Larry Murphy along with highlights of classic moments of the rivalry in the 1990s. That included the March 26, 1997, brawl between the two teams in which McCarty exacted revenge against Claude Lemieux for his hit along the boards on Kris Draper in Game 6 of the 1996 Western Conference Final.
The Avalanche even got in on Monday’s nostalgia act as Vladislav Namestnikov scored their first goal with 7:10 left in the first period to tie the game 1-1. Namestnikov is the nephew of former Red Wing and “Russian Five” member Slava Kozlov.
Anthony Mantha gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead 5:48 into the game when he slid a rebound/loose puck past Colorado goalie Michael Hutchinson.
There were several big hits in the game, but the one getting the biggest reaction was in vain. With a little more that 5-1/2 minutes left in the second period, Robby Fabbri laid a clean bodycheck on Gabriel Landeskog at the Colorado blue line, which knocked the Avalanche captain to the ice.
Problem was that, just before the hit, Landeskog had sent a pass to Logan O’Connor, who was just coming off the bench. He picked up the puck just outside the Detroit blue line and was in on a breakaway, beating Jonathan Bernier to give the Avalanche the lead and, ultimately, the win.
It was Detroit’s sixth loss in a row (0-5-1), but it also was the second straight contest in which they actually competed. The Wings lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Ottawa Senators on the road on Saturday night.
“We’re trying to move forward and not think about last week too much,” said Mantha, referring to the games in which they were outscored 15-4 while losing to Calgary, New Jersey and Minnesota.
Monday night was definitely not about last week. It was about the 1990s when the Red Wings won Stanley Cups in ’97 and ’98 and had to be as good as they could possibly be because they always had to deal with the Avalanche.
Ah, those were the days ...