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Mrazek has 28 saves for his 1st shutout of the season as Red Wings beat Avalanche, 3-0.

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DENVER — Petr Mrazek kept the surging Detroit Red Wings near the top of the Eastern Conference with another stellar performance.

Mrazek had 28 saves for his first shutout of the season to lead Detroit to a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

Justin Abdelkader put the Red Wings on the scoreboard in the second period, and Darren Helm and Luke Glendening added empty-net goals in the last 3 minutes. Detroit improved to 8-1-0 in its last nine games and pulled two points behind Tampa Bay for tops in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.

Mrazek has filled in nicely for veteran Jimmy Howard, who has missed 12 games with a groin injury. Mrazek is 8-2 in relief of Howard, topped off by Thursday's game.

"Tonight's a big night for him," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "The guy at the other end is a star, he's a heck of a goalie. For a kid, it was good for him."

Semyon Varlamov had 25 saves for Colorado, which dropped to 3-1-1 in its last five. The Avalanche were 0 for 3 on the power play and have not scored in their last 22 chances over the last four games. They are also just 3 for 43 over their last eight games with the man advantage.

"We had some chances we have to take advantage of and we didn't," Alex Tanguay said. "They took care of their power play and we didn't take care of our power plays. Very frustrating."

Detroit came in with the league's best power play and showed why in its first opportunity. With Colorado's Jan Hejda off for interference, Henrik Zetterberg fed Abdelkader in front of the net, and he put in his own rebound at 6:35 of the second period.

PHOTO: Detroit Red Wings center Riley Sheahan, center, attempts to put a wraparound shot on Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, of Russia, as Avalanche center John Mitchell, left, defends in the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Detroit Red Wings center Riley Sheahan, center, attempts to put a wraparound shot on Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, of Russia, as Avalanche center John Mitchell, left, defends in the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

"Varlamov, he really takes away a lot of the net," Abdelkader said. "But the puck kind of laid down there in front and got that rebound, and through the legs. It's not always the first chance, but sometimes the second and third, especially against good goalies."

Colorado sent three of its past four games into overtime by pulling Varlamov for an extra skater in the final minutes but couldn't keep the momentum going against Detroit. Helm scored with 2:29 remaining and Glendening sealed it with 15 seconds left.

"It was a tough last three minutes," Mrazek said. "They had a 6-on-5 and they were in our zone a lot, but I don't think they had many shots. Guy there blocked three or four (shots) and we scored two goals, so it was great."

The Avalanche, sitting ninth in the Western Conference, missed an opportunity to gain ground on eighth-place Vancouver, which lost 5-1 to San Jose.

"Those are points we needed bad," Tanguay said. "We just have to refocus and get ready for a big weekend."

Colorado appeared to take a 1-0 lead just 6:09 into the game but Gabriel Landeskog's goal was disallowed on a hand pass.

"It always feels good when they say no goal after they score," Mrazek said. "I dont know what happened there. I just saw another play after he touched it with his hand, so probably a good call."

The Avalanche outshot Detroit 12-5 in the first and controlled the play for most of the period.

NOTES: Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk notched his 555th career assist. He moves into fourth place on the franchise list. ... Avalanche D Tyson Barrie was scratched due to a hip flexor injury. ... Detroit recalled D Xavier Ouellet and G Jonas Gustavsson from Grand Rapids of the AHL and assigned G Tom McCollum to Grand Rapids. ... Howard skated with the team Wednesday and could return as early as next week.

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PHOTO: Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek, of the Czech Republic, stops a shot off the stick of a Colorado Avalanche player in the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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