Hull scored his 709th goal to move into fifth place on the all-time list and the Red Wings clinched another playoff berth with a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
With just over 14 minutes left in the third period, Hull came down on a 2-on-1 and worked a give-and-go with Pavel Datsyuk before putting a shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle into a vacated net to make it 5-2.
“We do that in practice all the time and the guys keep telling me to shoot more,” Hull said. “I know how to shoot, I don’t have to do it in practice. The give-and-go is how you have to play the game these days. That’s the game Wayne Gretzky and my father taught me. The players today are too good to walk around. You might walk around the defender one time in 20.”
Hull moved past Mike Gartner on the all-time list and trails only Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Marcel Dionne and Phil Esposito. He reached the 30-goal plateau for the 12th time.
“He was a great player and a great ambassador for the game and still is,” Hull said of Gartner. “I’m very proud to go past him. I would have liked to stand up (and acknowledge the crowd), but I have too much respect for the Avalanche to do that.”
“(Hull) just passed another great player,” Detroit coach Dave Lewis said. “His career has been passing players who’ve been great. The 700 was bigger than that, but Mike Gartner was a great player. That’s just Brett being Brett.”
The Red Wings trailed their archrivals, 2-1, after defenseman Rob Blake scored on the power play with 2:46 left in the opening period. It was the first power-play goal Detroit had given up in 257 minutes, 49 seconds.
Sergei Fedorov put Detroit ahead with 6:31 remaining in the period. From the left faceoff circle, he picked the right corner of the net with a wrist shot.
Igor Larionov put a bad-angle shot off Roy and into the net for a 4-2 lead with 2:55 to go in the second.
“We didn’t play a good second period,” Colorado coach Tony Granato said. “You can’t play 58 minutes, you can’t play 40 minutes, you have to play 60 minutes. It was probably our worst period in a while and they took advantage of it. We got back on our heels. You do that against a team like theirs that moves the puck so well and you’re gonna be in trouble.”
Datsyuk notched his 10th goal for the Red Wings, who extended their home winning streak to seven games. They are 14-1-0-1 in the last 16 contests to get within four points of Ottawa for the Presidents’ Trophy.
“We’re playing with a lot more confidence,” Lewis said. “Since the All-Star game, everybody seems to be doing what they’re supposed to do. Everything hinges on how well we play. Some nights you might play well and still lose, other nights you might not play as well and you still get the win.”
“It’s a very important game. You look at the standings and they’re only three points behind us,” Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said of the Avalanche. “We’re looking to move up and try and catch Dallas. It was a very important game for us.”
“He has a charley horse,” Avalanche coach Ton Granato said. “We’ll see what he’s like after we land in Washington as far as if he’s going to play tomorrow. He’ll get treatment tonight. We’ll see what he’s like in the morning.”
Forsberg, who had a season-high 10-game points streak stopped, left in the second period and did not return. He was injured in a collision with rookie defenseman Dmitri Bykov.
“Hopefully, it’s not too bad,” Colorado captain Joe Sakic said. “It’s a bruised leg, so we’ll just have to deal with it. We’ve had injuries before.”
The Avalanche endured just their third regulation loss in the last 26 games (18-3-3-2) and their eighth road defeat of the season.
In a matchup that represented the most combined wins (819) in the same game in NHL history, Detroit’s Curtis Joseph made 21 saves while Roy turned aside 33 shots.
Less than six minutes after Hull scored, Morris got his ninth to pull Colorado within two goals, but the Avalanche could not prevent Detroit from evening the season series at 2-2-0.
“It doesn’t really matter,” Sakic said. “Yeah, it’s a tough loss, but so what? In the end, we face them in the playoffs. It’s like any other year that we play them. Regular season doesn’t really matter.
“Last time (we played them), they were struggling. Now they’re playing with a lot of confidence. You go through those ups and downs during the regular season.”
Datsyuk opened the scoring 5:13 into the first period, but Reinprecht knotted it just over eight minutes later with his 16th goal.
Blake put Colorado ahead, 2-1, when his shot from the left point went over the glove of Joseph, who appeared to be screened by Bates Battaglia.