'Mule' leads Wings

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

DETROIT -- The mule is turning into a thoroughbred.

If he keeps playing this well, he'll kick the Colorado Avalance right out of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Johan Franzen scored three goals to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-1 win over the Avalanche yesterday in Detroit, giving the Wings a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven NHL Western Conference semifinal.

Franzen has seven goals to lead the Wings in scoring. If there's a bigger surprise in these playoffs, it hasn't happened yet.

Franzen is nicknamed the Mule for the strength and effort he puts in every game. But he has 22 goals in 24 games, adding a dimension to his game he hasn't received much credit for.

"I don't want to think about that too much," Franzen said. "I don't want to think about being too fancy. You have to remember where you came from. Hard work is always first."

Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula had the other Red Wing goals, with Ian Laperriere breaking Chris Osgood's shutout bid.

The Avalanche played without Peter Forsberg and Wojtek Wolski. Forsberg hopes to be back for Game 3 but Wolski may be out the rest of the series. It puts a major crimp in the Avalanche offence. They only managed 20 shots on Osgood and didn't generate many good chances.

As if things didn't look bleak enough, Avalanche starting goaltender Jose Theodore was pulled for the second time in as many games, giving up four goals before giving way to Peter Budaj in the second period.

In Game 1, sickness was the reason given for his departure. He didn't look very good yesterday, giving up two bad goals.


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