DETROIT — After a dozen scoreless games in his return to Detroit, Jiri Hudler finally put the puck in the net — by shooting right at the goalie.
Hudler banked the puck in from behind the net off Peter Budaj's skate in the second period, and the Red Wings went on to beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 Saturday night. It was Hudler's first NHL goal in more than 19 months. He came back to Detroit after spending last season in Russia.
“When I was behind the net, I saw his pad a little bit,” Hudler said. “Thank God it went in. The first one is really important, I think. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it sooner.”
Hudler's goal put Detroit ahead 2-0. Todd Bertuzzi and Danny Cleary also scored for the Red Wings, who have won nine of 11.
Jimmy Howard stopped 21 shots for Detroit, allowing only John-Michael Liles' third-period goal when Colorado had a two-man advantage. Howard is 22-1-3 in his last 26 regular-season starts, dating to last season.
Hudler was serving a slashing penalty immediately before his goal, but he left the penalty box right as the Red Wings were clearing their zone and found himself alone against Budaj.
“The guy in the penalty box opened the door at the right second,” Hudler said.
Hudler couldn't convert on the breakaway, but the puck came back to him behind the net. He flung the puck off Budaj's left skate and in for his first goal with Detroit since April 5, 2009.
Hudler scored 23 goals in 2008-09 for the Red Wings but didn't have any through his first 12 games this season.