|Date of game: 3/6/2014
Colorado Avalanche (40-17-5) at Detroit Red Wings (28-21-12), 8 p.m. (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings will pay tribute to one of the franchise's all-time greats on Thursday, as the club is set to retire the number of Nicklas Lidstrom before hosting the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena.
Lidstrom's No. 5 will be lifted to the rafters in a pre-game ceremony on Thursday, as the Red Wings honor one of the best players to suit up for the Original Six franchise.
"It just seems so much bigger than I imagined," Lidstrom recently told the Red Wings official website. "I've been looking up at the rafters for a long time and seeing those names and it's a little surreal that my name is going to be going up there too and it's a tremendous honor to have my name up there as well."
A four-time Stanley Cup champion and seven-time Norris Trophy winner during 20 seasons with the Red Wings, Lidstrom is considered by many to be the greatest European player in the history of the NHL.
Lidstrom, who spent his entire career in Detroit, helped the Red Wings make the playoffs in each of his 20 seasons. The Red Wings are trying to make the postseason this spring for a 23rd straight year, but the club is currently one point out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The injury-plagued Red Wings received some much-needed forward help for the playoff push before Wednesday's trade deadline, picking up veteran center David Legwand from the Nashville Predators.
The Red Wings shipped forward Patrick Eaves, a conditional third-round pick and forward prospect Calle Jarnkrok to the Predators for Legwand, who was tied for the lead on Nashville with 40 points this season. A former No. 2 overall pick of Nashville in 1998, the 33-year-old is the franchise's all-time leader in games (956), goals (210), assists (356) and points (566).
Legwand, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, had 10 goals and 30 assists in 62 games for the Predators this season.
The Red Wings are hobbled by injuries at the moment, especially at center. Detroit is currently dealing with injuries to centers Henrik Zetterberg (back), Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Stephen Weiss (hernia) and Darren Helm (upper body).
On Wednesday, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland announced Datsyuk will be shut down for the next three weeks to help him recover from his knee injury.
Detroit hopes to bounce back from a loss on Lidstrom's special night. The Red Wings had won two straight following the Olympic break before getting dealt a 4-3 regulation loss Tuesday night in New Jersey.
Stephen Gionta's goal with 36.6 seconds remaining in regulation lifted the Devils to the win.
Johan Franzen continued his recent hot streak for Detroit, notching a goal and an assist in the loss. Brendan Smith and Todd Bertuzzi also tallied for the Red Wings, while Jimmy Howard finished with 25 saves.
"At the end of the day we didn't play well enough defensively to win this game," Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said.
Detroit posted a 4-2 win at Colorado on Oct. 17 and will try to sweep the season series on Thursday. The Red Wings have won four straight and six of eight overall in this series and the Avalanche have lost two in a row and four of five in the Motor City.
The Avalanche are in third place in the Central Division and currently hold a 10-point lead over Minnesota for the last of the division's three automatic bids to the playoffs.
Colorado won its third straight game Tuesday night in Chicago, as Tyson Barrie, Ryan O'Reilly and Paul Stastny scored third-period goals to support a 36-save effort from Semyon Varlamov in a 4-2 win over the Blackhawks.
Maxime Talbot also tallied and Erik Johnson notched three assists in the win. Barrie and O'Reilly also recorded assists during the Avalanche's final-period outburst.
The Avalanche stayed relatively quiet at Wednesday's trade deadline, making one trade to improve their depth in net. Colorado acquired goaltender Reto Berra from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a second-round selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
The 27-year-old Berra joins a crowded goaltender situation in Colorado, which already has Varlamov as a No. 1 option and veteran Jean-Sebastian Giguere as a backup. Giguere is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
Colorado is capping a two-game road trip on Thursday before heading back to Denver for a four-game homestand that is set to start Saturday against St. Louis. The Avs are 19-9-2 as the away team this season.