DENVER — On a night set up to honor Peter Forsberg, his Swedish countrymen stole the show.
Johan Franzen broke a tie in the second period and Henrik Zetterberg added another to help the Detroit Red Wings beat Colorado 3-0 on Saturday to spoil a celebration in which the Avalanche retired the jersey of Forsberg.
All’s fair in heated rivalries — a point that Forsberg even addressed in his pregame speech.
So, Zetterberg doesn’t feel all that bad trampling on Forsberg’s moment.
“It was a great ceremony, really happy to be apart of that, to be able to sit on the bench and enjoy that,” Zetterberg said. “After that, it was game on.”
And no one came up bigger than Ty Conklin. He was sensational in net as he filled in for Jimmy Howard, who played the night before in Detroit’s win over Ottawa. Conklin stopped 29 shots for his first shutout since last February.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to get shutouts,” Conklin said.
Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves in his Avalanche debut, two short of his career high.
Varlamov was acquired from Washington over the summer to shore up the team’s deficiencies in net and is quickly earning the respect of his teammates.
“He played unbelievable,” Paul Stastny said. “He controlled his rebounds great. If there was a rebound, he pushed it away. He handled everything well. Those two goals, one’s 4-on-3 the other’s 3-on-2 — he’s got no chance.”
Before the game, the Avs raised a banner with Forsberg’s name and number to the Pepsi Center rafters, where it will hang alongside those of Joe Sakic (19), Patrick Roy (33) and Ray Bourque (77).
Colorado sure could’ve used Forsberg’s scoring touch Saturday.
The Red Wings neutralized an Avalanche squad that has historically been exceptional on opening night, boasting the best winning percentage of any team in the league. They’re now 18-7-7 all time to start the season.
Zetterberg scored a nifty goal in the third period on a well-executed give-and-go with Pavel Datsyuk. After dropping a pass back to Datsyuk, Zetterberg got it right back and caught Varlamov out of position.
Later, with Varlamov pulled for an extra skater, Datsyuk added the clincher as the Red Wings showed no signs of fatigue playing in the second game of a back-to-back to begin the season.