DETROIT — He is almost the forgotten man in Detroit, perhaps the least visible of the famed Russian Five. That wasn't the case for Vyacheslav Kozlov Monday night, though.
Kozlov scored both Detroit goals and goalie Mike Vernon made them hold up for the Red Wings, who defeated the Colorado Avalanche, 2-1, to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.
"Kozzie plays with a lot of heart," Detroit forward Darren McCarty said. "He's an underrated player in this league, because people overlook him."
Those people might include his own coach. Scotty Bowman had used Kozlov sparingly through the first two periods. That's why he was on the ice for the game-winner in the third.
"He's been our producer in the playoffs," Bowman said. "His line was fresh, due to the time not being on the ice killing penalties. We saw that Kozlov had played only nine minutes after two periods, and we knew we had to increase his ice time in the third period."
Kozlov's second goal of the game, seventh of the playoffs, came on a wrist shot that sailed over Patrick Roy's blocker, just inside the right post, at 8:20 of the third period.
"That goal was a classic goal by Kozlov," Colorado Coach Marc Crawford said. "It was a great shot."
Colorado never lost two in a row games during last year's Stanley Cup run. But the playoffs have been a different story. The Avalanche lost Games 3 and 4 in Chicago during the first round and now two in a row to Detroit.