Detroit — The Red Wings blew a two-goal advantage in the third period and a one-goal lead with less than a minute left to lose to the Avalanche, 4-3, Sunday in overtime, a game they plainly should have won.
Nathan MacKinnon scored his seventh goal of the season on a hard wrist shot from the circle to the right of Jimmy Howard, beating him cleanly at 2:55 in overtime.
Carl Soderberg tied the game with 46 seconds left in regulation at 19:14 of the third period after the Avalanche lifted their goalie for an extra attacker. The tying goal occurred after a shot from MacKinnon bounced off Soderberg and then off Howard before going into the net.
It seemed a surprising loss after two straight wins, which included a 6-2-1 stretch that was built on speed, sticking to their game plan and good forechecking. Those elements were key in reversing an 0-5-1 skid.
“We didn’t play good enough from the start,” Jeff Blashill said. “So, we got, in my opinion, one point that we didn’t deserve.”
With the shots 24-12 in favor of the Avalanche at the end of two periods, the Red Wings led 2-1. They made it 3-1 on Niklas Kronwall's power-play goal 11:07 into the third, but controlled little of the play for the balance of the game.
“I thought they outskated us all game,” Blashill said. “So, eventually, over the course of 60 minutes, it caught up to us and they were able to tie it.
“And it’s magnified, certainly, when you’re up with a two-goal lead with that little time left to play. You certainly want to get home and steal that game, for sure. And we were in a position to steal the game.
“Really, I think, we’re lucky to get a point.”
The Red Wings got goals by Justin Abdelkader (fourth of the season); Andreas Athanasiou (fifth in 11 games) and Kronwall (first of the season).
After some terrific penalty killing and good goaltending by Howard, the Wings seemed suddenly to lose their defensive structure in the last 10 minutes of regulation.
Until then, while they were outshot, they had remained competitive with the Avalanche. But it was suddenly all Colorado.
Abdelkader opened the scoring at 14:01 of the first period.
Positioned in the slot, with his back to the Avalanche goal and a defender on him, Abdelkader managed to redirect a soft wrist shot from Dylan Larkin, who stood along the sideboards about 35 feet from the net.
Larkin collected his 16th assist, which is one more than all last season.
The Avalanche got a last-minute goal in the first period from defenseman Erik Johnson, who fired from about a third of the way from the blue line after a nice feed from the sideboards by Tyson Barrie.
In the second, the Red Wings looked like the team that had played a game within less than 24 hours — as the Avalanche did.
Outshot and outplayed for long segments of the period, they relied on Howard and a sterling penalty kill to keep the score tied.
The Wings killed off three penalties, including 48 seconds of a 5-on-3, allowing only two shots and no goals.
The penalty kill kept them within striking distance, despite allowing the same shot differential as in the first, 12-7.
After a faceoff in their own zone late in the period, Tomas Tatar gained control of the puck and led a streaking Athanasiou perfectly, sending him flying into the Avalanche zone, where he put a move on the goalie Jonathan Bernier and put the puck behind him.
It gave the hard-pressed, less-than-sharp Red Wings a one-goal lead after two.
At 11:03 of the final period, with Abdelkader providing a fine screen, the puck came all the way back to Kronwall at the blue line and he blasted a shot through a group and behind Bernier.
About 2:30 later, moments after a high-sticking penalty to Jonathan Ericsson, Colorado scored on a power play.
Nail Yakupov collected the puck near the top of the circle to Howard’s left and with no one on him, skated forward and let one rip right by the goalie, who stood little chance from that range.
Then, at 19:14, came the Avalanche's third goal when MacKinnon blasted one from the circle to the right of Howard. The puck appeared to hit Howard on the shoulder and roll up and over him into the net.