Compher, Soderberg score in 3rd as Avs top Wings

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[March 16, 2017]  DENVER -- J.T. Compher gave the Colorado Avalanche a glimpse into the future with a big goal against a bitter rival.

Compher's first NHL goal gave Colorado the lead early in the third period, Carl Soderberg scored 1:55 later, and the Avalanche beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Matt Duchene also scored and Calvin Pickard had 27 saves for the Avalanche (20-46-3).

Compher played college hockey at the University of Michigan, 43 miles from Detroit, so getting his first goal against them made it more special. The fact that it gave Colorado the lead meant even more.

"The first one's special no matter who you score it against," he said. "I didn't put too much thought into it, but it's good to get it in a win, that makes it a little more special. The guys were really excited, which make me feel better."

Andreas Athanasiou had a goal and Jimmy Howard stopped 26 shots in his second start back from the injured list. Detroit (26-31-11) has lost two straight.

The Red Wings have gone 1-5-1 in their last seven games and are in last place in the Atlantic Division. Their streak of making the playoffs will likely end this season at 25 straight years, a span that included six Western Conference titles and four Stanley Cup championships.

"It's hard. It's not fun," center Frans Nielsen said. "This time used to be the best time of year playing games that everything is on the line."

The game was tied at 1-1 after two periods, and then Compher gave Colorado the lead when he took a two-line pass from Francois Beauchemin, skated between the circles and beat Howard high at 3:49 of the first.

Compher, who made his NHL debut on March 2, got his first goal in his eighth game.

"Good patience on that goal," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. "He takes the middle of the ice, no one comes to him, and then he snaps it over Howard's blocker."

Soderberg made it a two-score game when he scored at 5:44. It was his sixth goal of the season and first in 18 games.

The goals came after Detroit killed off its third power play.

"(Penalty kill) did a good job killing it off," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "They got a little momentum from that and then they scored two quick ones. Lately when teams score once they score right away. It's hard to come back when you're down two."

Gabriel Landeskog had a chance to pad the lead when he was awarded a penalty shot at 11:58 but Howard made the save.

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Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) and defenseman Mark Barberio (45) defend the shot attempt by Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm (43) in the second period at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Athanasiou used his speed to get past the Colorado defensemen when he took a backhand pass from Justin Abdelkader as he skated out of the defensive zone. He went in alone on Pickard, put a move on and beat him for his 16th goal of the season at 5:09 of the first period to give Detroit a 1-0 lead.

Duchene tied it at 12:08 of the second with his 17th goal of the season and first in 12 games. Duchene pumped his arms in visible relief after scoring on Howard.

"That's the worst slump I've ever been in my life," said Duchene, who has just two goals since Jan. 17. "It was just insane, so it was nice to pick that one up. I think you could tell by my reaction how relieved I was. I don't know if I've ever scored a goal that felt better than that one."

Defenseman Mark Barberio was robbed twice on separate power plays. Howard slid over to stop him from scoring into a wide-open net early in the second period, and then robbed him with his stick from almost the same angle in the first minute of the third period.

"I thought Jimmy played great," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "He made some unreal saves, especially on their power plays. A couple of backdoors, way too many backdoors. The puck stuck to him."

NOTES: Detroit G Jimmy Howard played in his 394th NHL game to tie Mike Dunham for 12th place among United States-born goalies. ... Avalanche D Anton Lindholm made his NHL debut Wednesday. He was Colorado's fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft and played three years for Skelleftea AIK in Sweden before joining the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL where he had two goals and 10 assists in 59 games this season. ... The Red Wings are now 40-29-6 against Colorado since the franchise moved to Denver in 1995.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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