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Colorado 5, Detroit 3
Posted: Saturday February 08, 2003 11:00 PM
Detroit Red Wings
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Colorado Avalanche
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DENVER (Ticker) -- The Colorado Avalanche have to be happy they decided to hold on to Milan Hejduk.

Hejduk registered his first career hat trick and Radim Vrbata scored the go-ahead goal with 7:08 remaining as the Avalanche completed a home-and-home sweep of the Detroit Red Wings with a 5-3 victory.

The subject of trade rumors earlier this season, Hejduk has emerged as one of the Avalanche's top offensive players, also picking up the slack for injured linemate Joe Sakic.

With his big game against Colorado's archrival, Hejduk has 13 goals and 15 assists in his last 19 games. The Czech winger leads the Avalanche with 28 goals and is tied with Peter Forsberg for the team lead with 59 points.

"I think when you start scoring some goals you get more confident," Hejduk said. "All of a sudden, I feel like I'm in the right spot at the right time."

Hejduk capped the hat trick by scoring into an empty net with 55 seconds remaining.

Before he could seal the win, Vrbata snapped a 3-3 tie. He scored the game-winner after a wraparound by Steve Reinprecht hit his skate.

It appeared goaltender Curtis Joseph stopped the puck before it trickled over the goal line and play continued. But after a video review, Vrbata was awarded the goal.

Forsberg and Alex Tanguay each had two assists for Colorado, which extended its unbeaten streak to eight games (6-0-2). On Thursday, the Avalanche posted a 1-0 win at Detroit.

Tomas Holmstrom scored twice for the Red Wings, whose season-high winless streak reached six games (0-4-2).

"All we can do is get back to work," Detroit coach Dave Lewis said. "We have practice tomorrow, it has to be worked out. It's worked out with position, it's worked out with commitment."

The drought also continued for Red Wings sniper Brett Hull, who went scoreless for the seventh straight game and remained one goal shy of becoming the sixth player in NHL history to reach 700.

Hull had three scoring chances in the first period but was denied each time by Patrick Roy, who made 31 saves.

"The fans were into it, it was unbelievable," Roy said. "It was a good challenge for me (after giving up two early goals). Like I've said, I haven't tried to change my approach or mind-set out there."

One of Roy's miscues allowed the Red Wings to take a 3-2 lead 15 seconds into the second period.

Straying behind his net, Roy shot the puck around the boards and got caught out of position. Sergei Fedorov unleased a shot toward the net and Shanahan tapped it in for his 15th goal.

The Red Wings carried the lead in the third period before defenseman Adam Foote tied it with 11:55 remaining.

Working along the right boards, Foote fired a slap shot past Joseph, who was screened by Forsberg. It was his sixth goal.

Joseph thought the goal should not have counted.

"It would be nice to be able to call up and have a challenge like they do in the NFL," he said. "We would have challenged that one, unmistakeably. Yeah, it was goalie interference. You can't make the save when the guy is bumping into you when the shot is coming."

Forsberg had a similar view of the play.

"I can kind of agree with him," Forsberg said. "I kinda hit him a little bit. I didn't try to hit him, I was just trying to get in front of the net. There was a defenseman there. That's what you have to do. The goalies are too good and are going to stop the puck if they see it."

Just under two minutes later, Roy helped preserve the tie with a series of saves off a 3-on-1. The future Hall of Famer's best stop came while on his stomach to rob Igor Larionov.

Unlike Thursday's defensive struggle, the teams opened up things in this one, combining for four goals in the first 14:52.

Hejduk opened the barrage at 7:31, taking a drop pass from Forsberg and beating Joseph with a wrist shot over the left shoulder.

"It's fun playing with Peter and Alex (Tanguay), it seems like they always find me," Hejduk said.

But the Red Wings answered on the power play less than three minutes later. Luc Robitaille squeezed a pass through two defenders along the right boards to Holmstrom, who flipped a shot past Roy for his 11th goal.

Just 58 seconds later, Holmstrom put a rebound past Roy to give the Wings a 2-1 lead.

Later in the period, Joseph came up with a trio of spectacular stops on a two-man advantage, but Hejduk fired a rebound over the goalie's right shoulder to tie it at 2-2 with 5:08 left.