Manny Legace understands why the Detroit Red Wings would rather have Dominik Hasek or Curtis Joseph play instead of him.

The career backup goalie just wants to make it tough to replace him.

Legace made 27 saves, and Pavel Datsyuk and Mathieu Schneider scored in the Red Wings' 2-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday in Detroit.

Legace has become Detroit's No. 1 goalie because of injuries to Joseph and Hasek.

Even though Legace leads the trio in wins (21) and games (38) this season, the Red Wings have not said he will start when the playoffs begin the week after next.

Joseph has played in 122 playoff games and Hasek — who is out for the season — has 97 games of postseason experience. Legace has played just 11 minutes in one playoff game.

"When you have some of the best goalies in the world, it's hard to go with a guy that has never played under the pressure cooker," Legace said. "But I want to make it hard on the people making the decisions.

"I want the job. I want a chance to be the guy that gets us all the way to the finals."

Legace moved one step closer toward his goal Saturday because of his play — and Joseph's ankle.

An MRI exam of Joseph's right ankle revealed that a small piece of cartilage pulled away from a bone, general manager Ken Holland said before the game. The Red Wings hope a cortisone shot will relieve swelling and allow him to play before the regular season ends next Saturday.

Nobody has told Legace he will lead Detroit's quest for the Stanley Cup, but he believes he will.

"It doesn't look like Cujo's ankle is going to heal in time, so that's the way I'm looking at it," he said. "I'm just getting ready, and mentally prepared to go for a long haul."

Hasek was lost to a groin injury after he played just 14 games following his one-year retirement.

Legace has made the transition from reserve to starter this season with three shutouts, the same amount he had in his first four NHL seasons.

When Detroit won at Colorado 3-1 on Thursday, Legace made 34 saves and was 31 seconds away from another shutout.

"They've had a hot goalie," Peter Forsberg said. "We got a lot of shots, but he saved everything."

The Western Conference-leading Red Wings are 9-1-1 in their last 11 home games.

The Northwest Division-leading Avalanche are 0-5-1 in their last six and have scored just seven goals during the winless streak.

"We're at the lowest point of the season right now," Milan Hejduk said. "Nothing works."

Colorado's Tommy Salo — the backup to David Aebischer — made 25 saves, including many that kept the Avalanche in the game.

Detroit took a 1-0 lead with 10 seconds left in the second period, scoring on Schneider's power-play goal. Early in the third, Datsyuk corralled a rebound off Hull's shot and beat a sprawling Salo to give Detroit a 2-0 lead.

"Colorado brings out the best in us, and we bring out the best in them," Red Wings coach Dave Lewis said.

RANGERS 3, FLYERS 1: At Philadelphia, Jaromir Jagr had a goal and an assist to help the New York Rangers beat Philadelphia and snap a season-high eight game losing streak. Stephen Valiquette, making his first NHL start in almost four years, had 38 saves for the Rangers, who also got goals from Josh Green and Bobby Holik.

BLUES 4, BLACKHAWKS 3: At St. Louis, Bryce Salvador scored 1:50 into overtime, lifting St. Louis back into a playoff position in the Western Conference. Keith Tkachuk had a goal and an assist, and Doug Weight earned his 600th career assist for the Blues, who recovered from blowing a two-goal lead.

SABRES 2, PENGUINS 2: At Pittsburgh, Konstantin Koltsov's goal late in the second period helped Pittsburgh rally for a tie that damaged Buffalo's slim playoff hopes. Pittsburgh overcame a 2-0 deficit to extend its home unbeaten streak to seven (5-0-2).

THRASHERS 3, PANTHERS 0: At Sunrise, Fla., Kari Lehtonen stopped 30 shots to earn his first NHL shutout, and Atlanta set a franchise record for wins and points in a season by beating Florida. Dany Heatley scored twice and Patrik Stefan added a goal for the Thrashers, who earned their 32nd victory and 76th point. Atlanta beat Florida for the fifth consecutive time, winning the season series 5-1.

BLUE JACKETS 3, PREDATORS 2: At Nashville, Tenn., Tyler Wright scored 2:03 into overtime, and the Columbus beat Nashville for its fourth straight victory. The Predators extended their home winless skid to five straight and missed an opportunity to move into sole possession of seventh place in the Western Conference.

FLAMES 3, KINGS 2: At Calgary, Alberta, Shean Donovan scored 1:06 into overtime to give Calgary a 3-2 victory over Los Angeles. Chris Simon and Craig Conroy also scored for Calgary, and Jarome Iginla had a pair of assists giving him 501 NHL points.

LIGHTNING 4, CAPITALS 1: At Tampa, Fla., Vincent Lecavalier scored two goals to help Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay remain tied with Detroit for the overall NHL lead.

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BRUINS 3, CANADIENS 2: At Boston, Sergei Samsonov's second goal of the game with 27.6 seconds left in overtime, completed Boston's rally against Montreal. The Bruins trailed 2-0, including a penalty-shot goal by Montreal's Jason Ward just 26 seconds in.

SENATORS 2, MAPLE LEAFS 2: At Toronto, Bryan McCabe scored the tying goal midway through the third period to help Toronto come back to tie Ottawa. Toronto remained one point ahead of its biggest rival in the Northeast Division.

HURRICANES 3, ISLANDERS 2: At Uniondale, N.Y., rookie defenseman Allan Rourke ended Rick DiPietro's shutout streak in the first period and Carolina stalled the New York Islanders' playoff drive. Sean Hill and Jaroslav Svoboda also scored for the Hurricanes.


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