DENVER (AP) -- The Colorado Avalanche played their best game of the series, and it still wasn't enough.
Pavel Datsyuk scored two goals and Johan Franzen continued his postseason scoring spree, adding a goal, as the Detroit Red Wings moved a game away from sweeping the Avalanche after a 4-3 win Tuesday night in Game 3.
The Red Wings are rolling while the Avalanche are reeling.
"They've got a great hockey team," Avalanche captain Joe Sakic said. "Definitely, they deserve to be up 3-0 the way the series has gone. They've outskated us, outworked us."
Not that he's conceding anything just yet.
"The Red Sox came back on the Yankees," the Avalanche captain said, referencing Boston's comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS. "It's happened, we just have to go in and worry about Game 4."
Also, the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied from a 3-0 hole against the Red Wings in the 1942 Stanley Cup final, and the New York Islanders did against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the quarterfinals in 1975.
Detroit can put the finishing touches on the series with a win in Game 4 on Thursday night at the Pepsi Center. None of the five previous playoff series between the two rivals ended in a sweep.
"This was a really huge game," said Franzen, who leads the NHL with eight goals in the postseason, including six against Colorado. "We didn't want to invite them back in the series."
The Red Wings have sent that invite before -- like in their opening-round series against Nashville. They were up 2-0 on the Predators only to see them tie up the series, before the Red Wings finished them off in Game 6.
This series may not last that long.
"I was happy with how we played tonight, but we fell a little bit short," said Andrew Brunette, who scored two goals. "We need to correct a few of the things and just try to win one game."
The Avalanche do lead the Wings in one category -- injuries.
The banged-up Avs were without forward Ryan Smyth (foot) and lost another, leading scorer Paul Stastny, to a knee injury in the first period.
However, center Peter Forsberg and defenseman Scott Hannan returned to the lineup. Forsberg had missed the previous two games with a groin injury and Hannan sat out Game 2 with a lower-body injury.
The Red Wings have absolutely no sympathy, though.
"That's part of the playoffs," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "You don't know which year something is going to go wrong."
At least Colorado got to see its younger players on the ice. T.J. Hensick made his postseason debut and assisted on Cody McLeod's first playoff goal.
"Our young kids played a heck of a game," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said.
So did Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who each scored on assists from the other.
"They're elite, elite players coming into the prime of their careers," Babcock said. "They have great will and determination. That is what separates you from being a regular player to being a star -- how much drive you have, how much heart, how much passion you have. They're elite in that way."
Chris Osgood had another solid performance in net, turning back 30 shots. He did, however, noticed a change in tactics by the Avalanche.
Colorado players didn't wait for the perfect shot, just an open shot.
"They threw the puck at the net and deflected more of them and made things hard on me," Osgood said. "They got guys in my face and banged at me. I thought they played real well offensively."
Colorado hasn't had much success against the Wings this season, losing all seven times. In order to advance to the conference finals, the Avalanche will have to become the first team in 33 years to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs.
"Tonight, we didn't quit, we battled back. But it wasn't enough," Sakic said. "Hopefully, next game we can find a way to win it and at least extend it and get some momentum."
Notes@: Red Wings F Mikael Samuelsson lost a tooth when he caught Forsberg's stick in the mouth. Forsberg was assessed a 4-minute penalty, and Zetterberg scored on the power play. ... Detroit D Nicklas Lidstrom appeared in his 201st playoff game, breaking a tie with Jari Kurri for the most postseason games by a European-born player. ... Recovered from the flu, Jose Theodore was back in goal and stopped 31 shots. He was pulled in each of the team's two losses in Detroit for poor outings.