Filppula's pair delivers difference for red-hot Wings vs. Avs

DENVER (AP) -- A near-perfect game by the Colorado Avalanche couldn't slow down the Detroit Red Wings.

Valtteri Filppula scored two goals for the second straight game and Dominik Hasek made 22 saves in the Red Wings' 4-2 win over the Avalanche on Thursday night.

It was the Red Wings' 11th win in December and their 13th victory in 15 games.

"I thought we played a great game. It's disappointing, certainly," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. "We did everything we wanted to do except win the game."

The Red Wings have done a lot of winning this season. They're 28-7-3 and have just one regulation loss since Nov. 22. A big reason is their NHL-low 82 goals allowed coming into Thursday's game.

"We're playing really good team defense," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We are limiting scoring chances, and our goaltending has been solid. We are playing so well defensively that we can be patient on the other end."

That's what happened on Filppula's first goal. The Red Wings were killing a penalty when they went on the counterattack. Filppula, who had two goals in Detroit's 5-0 win over St. Louis on Wednesday, put a shot on net. Colorado defenseman Brett Clark knocked in the rebound as he tried to clear the puck.

"You get goals like that when things are going well," said Filppula, who has 13 this season and eight in 10 games. "The last two nights I got some pretty good goals. The puck is going in right now."

The Avalanche were able to match the Red Wings for the first half of the game. After Filppula made it 2-0 with 2:55 left in the first period, Cody McLeod scored his first NHL goal 92 seconds later. Marek Svatos tied it with 14:04 left in the second period.

"We hung in there," Colorado forward Andrew Brunette said. "We started slow, but as the game progressed we had some opportunities."

Jiri Hudler broke a 2-2 tie with nine minutes left in the second period when his slap shot from the right circle beat Peter Budaj over his left shoulder.

"I just closed my eyes and shot the puck," Hudler said.

The Avalanche had a few chances to get the equalizer in the final five minutes. Lidstrom went off for tripping with 3:58 left -- one of only four penalties called in the game -- but Colorado couldn't score on the power play. The Avalanche pulled Budaj with 1:10 left and nearly tied it when defenseman Kyle Cumiskey had a clear shot at Hasek, but the goalie made the save. A minute later, Mikael Samuelsson scored into an empty net to seal the win.

"I thought if we played like that we'd have better results," Quenneville said. "They're a dangerous team."

The Red Wings beat a Colorado team that has been hot at home. Coming into Thursday's game, the Avalanche were 15-3 at the Pepsi Center, where they had won five straight.

"We found a way to win the game," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't have nearly the energy we normally have. We played a good team that is very comfortable at home."

The Avalanche found out Thursday they will be without Joe Sakic, who missed his 13th straight game, for quite a bit longer. The captain will undergo hernia surgery on Friday and is expected to miss eight-to-12 weeks. He has been sidelined since Nov. 30.

"We know he has been trying hard to get back, and he saw the doctor and things weren't good," said Avalanche forward Ryan Smyth, who returned to the lineup after missing three games with a neck injury. "It's disappointing, but collectively we have to figure out a way through this together and all step up."

Game notes
Colorado was called for one penalty, a high-sticking minor against Brad Richardson with 8:30 left in the game. ... Richardson rejoined the lineup after being activated from the injured list. He had missed five games due to a shoulder injury. ... Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are 1-2 in All-Star voting among Western Conference forwards. Lidstrom leads West defensemen. ... The Pepsi Center was near capacity despite the second major snowstorm to hit Denver in three days.