(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Perfect?
On a night when the Detroit Red Wings honored the so-called perfect human by retiring Nicklas Lidstrom's No. 5 at Joe Louis Arena, his present-day counterparts tried to do their best imitation of their former flawless defenseman.
And that wasn't limited to all of them wearing No. 5 Lidstrom sweaters during the pregame warm-up before Thursday's tilt with the Colorado Avalanche.
The Wings came out hot and hungry. They pushed the pace and played aggressively and outshot the Avs, 37-25.
But it wasn't enough. Andre Benoit scored with 31 seconds left in overtime to beat the Wings, 3-2, when he got a great cross-ice feed from Nathan MacKinnon, who extended his point streak to 13 games.
The Wings earned a point and jumped ahead of Columbus for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference by virtue of the first tiebreaker of few games played.
"I thought we played good," coach Mike Babcock said. "Just keep playing like that. Let's bottle it and do it again tomorrow and we're going to win more than we lose.
"I liked their effort. All four lines did a lot of good things. (Goalie Jonas Gustavsson) gets a chance to go tomorrow. We need to win a game."
The effort certainly was there. But let's face it. No one's ever going to mistake Brian Lashoff for Lidstrom. Gone are the days of Lidstrom's finesse and perfect positional play.
While he used his stick like a scalpel, these Wings substituted grit for greatness and wielded their sticks more like cudgels to tame the mighty Avs (41-17-5).
The Wings were rewarded with their early aggressive play when Niklas Kronwall's backhander gave them a 1-0 lead at 12:33 of the first period.
On a rush into the Avs' zone, Kronwall carried the puck down the center and just inside the blue line when he passed to Joakim Andersson on the right wing. Andersson immediately sent it back to Kronwall, who was streaking into the slot. He scored when he flicked a backhander over the left shoulder of Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The Avs finally got on the board and tied the score at 1 on Matt Duchene's goal midway through the second period with the help of a couple of deflections.
Erik Johnson started the play when he skated into the Wings' zone and ripped a shot from the left wing that deflected off Kronwall's skate and then off the end boards and onto Duchene's stick in front of the crease. Duchene took a quick swipe at the puck that got past Jimmy Howard and deflected off Johan Franzen's skate and into the net.
The goal was Duchene's 20th and extended his points streak to six games.
The second period continued its torrid pace and the Wings didn't waste any time regaining their lead.
With Nick Holden off for tripping at 10:27, the Wings went on the power play and cashed in on Tomas Jurco's goal at 12:10.
With the puck sliding around behind Giguere's net, Riley Sheahan managed to lodge it loose and nudge it across the crease for Jurco, who tapped it in for a 2-1 lead.
The Wings scored on one of their two power plays, but they mustered only one shot during an overtime power play.
"The power play wasn't dangerous in overtime," Babcock said. "For whatever reason, we didn't shoot the puck. We scored a power-play today; it was on retrieval, it wasn't on any shooting.
"So we can't pass it into the net. We've got to shoot it in the net. So we've got to address that."
Colorado evened the score at 2 at 5:49 of the third period when Duchene muscled his way behind the Wings' net and tossed a short backhand pass to PA Parenteau, who fought off Franzen and put the puck past Howard from point blank