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Denver — You expect some different things at outdoor hockey games, some unusual stuff.

But a fake blizzard?

That’s pretty much what occurred in the third period of Saturday’s 5-3 Red Wings victory over the Colorado Avalanche as the wind began swirling and started blowing the cotton disguised as snow all over Coors Field and onto the ice.

Luckily, the commotion was temporary, and the game went on without another hitch.

But certainly it was a bit different to see a bunch of cotton flying all over the field — looking pretty much like snow.

“It was just kind of weird looking up and foam is flying around everywhere,” said forward Tomas Tatar, who had a goal and assist. “It’s a little weird. I was just trying to not think about it too much.”

Play was stopped momentarily during the third period to get any strands of cotton off the ice. The team switched ends at the 10 minute mark of the third period to make it equal for both teams.

The wind became somewhat of a factor in the third with its swirling and gusts, which made skating and any sort of offensive attack a bit more difficult.

“For sure you felt it a little bit,” Tatar said. “But both teams had the same stuff, we switched the sides, and it worked out pretty well.

“I was just trying to find a way for the wind to push me a little bit (up the ice).”

“It was a little blizzard,” said forward Gustav Nyquist, whose early third-period goal tied the game and sparked the Red Wings. “But it was not too bad, I would say.”

Said forward Brad Richards, who scored the eventual winner: “The cotton thing, it looked like it was going to affect it but it ended up that it didn’t.”

As for the wind?

“I didn’t get to ask the faster skaters how they felt the wind affected them,” said Richards, not known for his end-to-end speed. “I had the same speed all night.”

Excellent event

This outdoor game, at the minimum, equaled the Winter Classic at The Big House against Toronto with its intimate setting, fine weather, and festive atmosphere.

“What a great event,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It was awesome. The crowd was awesome. It was a great setting and I was real thankful to be part of it.”

Friday’s Alumni Game got the weekend going with fans reliving the heated rivalary between the Red Wings and Avalanche.

“It was a special weekend,” Richards said. “Growing up, anytime I wanted to watch hockey I wanted to watch Colorado or Detroit. There’s so many great players.

“To be part of this history, being around and seeing some of the guys yesterday and knowing they played (it was special).

“(And) it’s a huge two points for our team and great experience.”

Thousands of Red Wings fans were in attendance for both games over the weekend.

“Our fans are special,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “This weekend was a big weekend for our club. We saw that with all the fans, starting yesterday or even the day before we got here, people walking around. That gets us excited.

“But with the history with these two clubs, the game brought a lot of fans. The excitement of winning this game was big.”

Smith scratched

Brendan Smith was a healthy scratch as Jonathan Ericsson re-entered the lineup after missing six games with a lower body injury.

Blashill said he decided on the six defensemen he felt would help the Red Wings win this particular game.

“He’s (Smith) not injured,” Blashill said. “We have seven real good defensemen and I have to make hard decisions as to who plays. I played the six that I thought were going to give us the best chance. We’ll continue to evaluate it.”

Ice chips

Tomas Jurco replaced Teemu Pulkkinen in the only other change in the Red Wings lineup.

… The Red Wings have earned at least one point in each of their last nine games against the Avalanche (6-0-3).

… The sellout crowd of 50,095 raised the total attendance for the NHL’s 18 regular-season outdoor games to 1,021,055 – an average of 56,725 per game.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tkulfan

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