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Wings go top overall after win over Avs

THE Detroit Red Wings beat the struggling Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Wednesday to post the best record in the National Hockey League.

Goalie Ty Conklin recorded 25 saves and Johan Franzen scored his 26th goal of the season as the Red Wings improved to 94 points, one ahead of the San Jose Sharks and the East's Boston Bruins.

As the trade deadline came and went, defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit (43-14-8) decided not to make any changes going into the final stretch of the season.

"We won the Stanley Cup," General Manager Ken Holland told reporters. "We like our team. In the end, for pretty good prospects or picks, it didn't make sense to upgrade whatever percentage we thought we could upgrade."

In the day's only other NHL game, it was: Sabres 5, Canadiens 1.

In Denver, Colorado, even without leading scorer Marian Hossa, who was injured during Detroit's victory over St. Louis on Tuesday, the Red Wings were too good for the Western Conference-worst Avalanche (28-36-1).

Early lead

The Avalanche took an early lead when John-Michael Liles scored with a slapshot three minutes into the game.

Valtteri Filppula scored the first of three unanswered goals for the Red Wings with 19 seconds remaining in the first period. Franzen followed at 7:03 into the second and Kris Draper made it 3-1 six minutes later.

Milan Hejduk pulled Colorado within one goal with his 24th score of the season 18:19 into the third.

Colorado goalie Andrew Raycroft finished with 27 saves but was unable to stop his team losing a sixth consecutive game, the team's longest losing streak since the 1995-96 season.

The streaking Red Wings are 12-3-1 in their last 16 contests. All-Star forward Hossa is listed as day-to-day after he slammed into the boards against the Blues and suffered neck and knee injuries that initially looked serious.

In Buffalo, New York, Buffalo moved within two points of the provisional last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by cruising past Montreal.

Goalie Patrick Lalime stopped the first 36 shots he faced while Derek Roy and Paul Gaustad scored two goals each for the Sabres, and Jaroslav Spacek had a goal and assist.


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