The surging Avalanche look for a fourth straight victory as they continue their longest road swing of the season Saturday night against the Red Wings.
Six months ago Colorado finished with a conference-worst 69 points - the fewest since the franchise moved to Denver from Quebec City in 1995. That total was 43 points fewer than Detroit, which advanced to its second straight Stanley Cup final.
Colorado (5-1-1), however, is off to a strong start while the Red Wings improved to 3-3-0 after beating Los Angeles 5-2 on Thursday.
“They’re in first place overall and obviously doing a good job,” coach Mike Babcock told the Red Wings’ official Web site of the Avalanche, who despite their rough season went 3-1-1 versus the Red Wings in 2008-09.
The Avalanche, tied with Chicago atop the West with 11 points, improved to 3-1-1 on their seven-game road trip with a 3-2 win at Montreal on Thursday.
“We’re a pretty resilient group right now,” first-year Colorado coach Joe Sacco said after his team improved to 2-1 in regulation games decided by one goal.
Milan Hejduk(notes) scored his third of the season and 18-year-old Ryan O’Reilly(notes) recorded his first career goal for the winner as the Avalanche scored at least three goals for the sixth time in seven contests.
Reilly, chosen 33rd overall by the Avalanche in the 2009 draft, also has three assists through seven games.
“I never thought I’d be here this far, at least,” O’Reilly said. “It’s pretty amazing. You never know when it’s going to happen and finally it does and you’re like, ‘Wow!’ This is what you dream about forever.”
Hejduk, who’s scored three times in his last four games, had two goals and four assists against Detroit last season.
Craig Anderson(notes), who made 29 saves against Montreal, has a 1.99 goals-against average while starting every game for Colorado. A backup his previous six seasons with Chicago and Florida, Anderson is 0-2-0 with a 3.38 GAA versus the Red Wings.
After losing a pair to St. Louis in Sweden to open the season, Detroit has won three of four.
On Thursday, Brian Rafalski(notes) had a goal with an assist and Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) added two assists to become the first European defenseman and eighth overall to reach 1,000 points as the Red Wings improved to 3-0 at Joe Louis Arena.
A six-time Norris Trophy winner, Lidstrom has 229 goals and 771 assists in 1,336 career games. He’s also the fourth player with 1,000 points as a Red Wing, joining Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman and Alex Delvecchio.
Lidstrom has 10 goals and 36 assists against the Avalanche organization.
Osgood, 3-2-0 with a 3.31 GAA, could be back in goal trying to improve on a 10-8-2 record with three ties and 2.67 GAA against the Avalanche.