Red Wings flatten Avalanche with 4-goal third

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — As far as memorable games between the Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche go, this one will not be drawn into the conversation.

But for the Red Wings these days, this season, a win is a win, and Saturday’s 5-1 victory over the dreadful Avalanche will be enjoyed all the same.

Especially the way it unfolded.

Tomas Tatar scored two third-period goals, only 1 minute 36 seconds apart, breaking a tie and the Red Wings wound up scoring four answered goals.

“We played real good hockey in the third period,” said Tatar, who reached the 20-goal mark with his two goals. “It was just a good effort by the whole team.”

Dylan Larkin added a power-play goal and Gustav Nyquist scored the capper, sending the Red Wings (28-31-11, 67 points) to their second consecutive victory.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 5, Avalanche 1

Colorado is a league-worst 20-47-3 (43 points).

“We’ve talked about it a lot, these aren’t easy times,” said coach Jeff Blashill, as the regular season winds down with the playoffs miles away. “Character comes through and it was awesome to watch as a group.

“We didn’t play perfect, but they played hard, too. It was kind of back and forth and we continued to dig in and I was happy about that.”

It was the second consecutive game with five goals for the Red Wings as the offense finally has found some traction.

“It’s great to see,” said goalie Jimmy Howard, who stopped 23 shots for the victory. “A lot of times this year the effort has been there for 60 minutes, but we just weren’t on the score sheet. It’s great to see pucks going in for us.”

Tatar’s goals occurred just under two minutes after Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon tied the game.

Justin Abdelkader (power play) opened the Red Wings’ scoring.

Colorado tied the game 1-1 on MacKinnon’s 15th goal at 3:44 of the third period.

Tyson Barrie shot the puck from the point into a maze of bodies in front of Howard.

But Tatar answered not once but twice.

The first goal was a result of Luke Glendening’s hustle, as he beat defenseman Erik Johnson to a loose puck, and when goalie Calvin Pickard failed to pokecheck the puck away, Glendening fed Tatar, who scored into an open net at 5:20.

“Just unbelievable effort by Luke,” Tatar said.

Then, just 96 seconds later, Tatar got a pass from Nyquist on a rush and beat Pickard with a slap shot from the dot for his 20th goal, and a 3-1 Red Wings’ lead.

The insurance goal has been something the Red Wings have been lacking this season.

“It’s what we’ve needed through this season,” Tatar said. “When we get the lead, you always need the extra one. That calms the team down. A two-goal lead, you just play with more confidence.

“Then we scored another goal, and that’s big.”

The bad news for the Red Wings on the day could be the loss of Darren Helm, who left in the second period with an apparent leg injury.

Helm took a hit from Johnson as he was receiving a pass from Anthony Mantha.

Blashill said Helm is day-to-day, and his status for Monday’s game against Buffalo is unknown.