The Detroit Red Wings climbed back into their familiar position at the top of the NHL standings after a 3-2 victory over the struggling Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday. Johan Franzen snapped a tie midway through the second period for the Stanley Cup champions who also got goals from Valtteri Filppula and Kris Draper and 25 saves from Ty Conklin as they overtook the San Jose Sharks and the Boston Bruins for top spot.
The Red Wings have won three of the last four Presidents' Trophies for the NHL's best record and collected the award six times overall, four more than any other team in the league. Defenceman John-Michael Liles and Milan Hejduk netted for the Avalanche, who have lost six in a row and hold the worst record in the Western Conference. In the night's only other contest, Derek Roy scored two goals and Patrick Lalime made 38 saves as the Buffalo Sabres cruised to a dominant 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
Paul Gaustad also netted a pair of goals and defenceman Jaroslav Spacek recorded a goal and an assist for the Sabres, who snapped a three-game losing streak and won for only the fourth time in 11 games. The Canadiens entered the contest on a four-game winning streak, but were forced to start All-Star goaltender Carey Price, who has struggled since injuring an ankle over three months ago, instead of red-hot Jaroslav Halak, who is recovering from the flu.
Lalime saw his shutout bid ended with 66 seconds to play by Tomas Plekanec, but managed to collect his first home win since joining Buffalo during the off- season. * With agencies