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Franzen's two goals and assist lift Red Wings over Avalanche 4-3

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Franzen's two goals and assist lift Red Wings over Avalanche 4-3

The Canadian Press
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DETROIT - Johan Franzen's name is not at the top of scouting reports for Detroit Red Wings' opponents.

It might be now. The second-line wing scored two goals and had an assist to help the Red Wings build a three-goal cushion, and they held on to beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 Thursday night in Game 1 of their second-round series.

"Their top line is dangerous, but he's the next guy you have to worry about," Avs coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's got skill and he's a big power forward."

The six-foot-three, 220-pound Franzen - Detroit's biggest player - scored his second goal early in the second period to put Detroit ahead 4-1.

Colorado pulled within a goal by the end of the second and had chances to score late in the game against Chris Osgood, who made 18 saves, including one against John-Michael Liles in the final seconds.

"He shut the door when the game was on the line," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

The Avs pulled Jose Theodore after he gave up four goals on 16 shots, then sent him to the team hotel because he was sick. Peter Budaj gave the Avs a chance to come back by stopping all 20 shots he faced.

Game 2 is Saturday afternoon in Detroit.

Joe Louis Arena was buzzing when the puck dropped and a rivalry was renewed, then the Avs quieted the storied arena with the game's first goal.

Paul Stastny scored midway through the first period, giving the Avs a goal against Detroit for the first time since the first of their four regular-season meetings.

The lead didn't last long.

Henrik Zetterberg lit the lamp a minute later, then Franzen factored in the next three goals by splitting two Avs to assist on Dan Cleary's goal that went off, over and behind Theodore, and scoring twice.

"Even though they got the first goal, we felt like we were the better team," Franzen said. "Good thing we got a goal the next shift."

Franzen had two goals in a playoff game for the first time, earning praise along with linemates Valtteri Filppula and Mikael Samuelsson.

"That was our best line," Babcock said. "He was really good with Filppula and Samuelsson. We said in the last series, if we could get that line going, we would be really good."

Liles scored at 5:17 of the second for Colorado, and Milan Hejduk scored late in the period to make it 4-3.

The sixth-seeded Avs gave the NHL's top-seeded team all it could handle despite an unexpected scratch, getting a player injured during the game and pulling their ill goalie.

"We had a real good second period and we had some good chances to get the equalizer in the end," Quenneville said. "It says we can compete against this team."

Star centre Peter Forsberg was out of the lineup after pulling his groin in the morning skate and forward Wojtek Wolski was sidelined with an upper body injury.

"We have to collectively make up for it," Ryan Smyth said.

Quenneville said Forsberg is day to day. He's hopeful Theodore and Wolski will play in Game 2.

Much was made about the bad blood between the two teams after they matched up five times between 1996-2002 - combining to win five Stanley Cups in the seven-year span - but the game had only the usual hits and scrums seen in NHL playoff games.

During the first intermission, the top five moments in the rivalry were shown - all from Detroit's perspective - and the No. 1 video clip drew a roar from the fans. Darren McCarty was shown pummelling Colorado's Claude Lemieux in 1997 as payback for breaking Kris Draper's nose and jaw with a blind-sided check into the boards the previous year.

Osgood is hoping the old memories stay in the past.

"If you were to ask the guys that played in those series, they wouldn't be commenting on this one now," he said. "So, I don't really feel that this is the time for me to comment on or compare the series because there's new players on both sides."

Notes: Franzen scored twice in three regular-season games, all of which were in a 20-day span last month. ... Lions C Dominic Raiola was at the game and was booed when he was shown on the videoboards. ... Zamboni driver Al Sobotka avoided an NHL fine by taking his octopus-twirling routine off the ice, following a league mandate. ... Smyth had two assists.

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Franzen's two goals and assist lift Red Wings over Avalanche 4-3