DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings were seeking a confidence-boosting win coming off a lopsided loss.
They got it.
"The guys responded," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "On a back-to-back, it was a real big win for our team. We needed it."
The Red Wings were routed 7-1 by Chicago on Sunday for a second straight setback. Detroit looked as though it was going to roll to an easy victory against the Avs, but the two-point victory didn't come easy.
"It was at a sharp angle," Howard said of the shot that led to his 22nd and final stop. "As a goalie, you're supposed to make that save 99 times out of 100."
Parenteau, though, thought he got off a good shot.
"I thought I was quick enough to go (top) shelf, but he made a pretty solid save," he said. "The story of our season. We're losing games by one goal but trailing two or three to start."
The Avs are tied with Florida for the fewest points in the NHL and have lost nine of their last 11 games. They're 6-17-2 when an opponent scores first, 3-17-1 when trailing after two periods and 7-6-4 in one-goal games.
Colorado avoided a shutout with a power-play goal at 14:08 of the third period when Jamie McGinn's backhander from between the circles sailed over a sprawling Howard. Avalanche forward Cody McLeod checked Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith into Howard, who couldn't get off the ice in time to stop McGinn's shot.
"They were sitting on our guy in the crease," Babcock said.
Colorado pulled goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who had replaced starting goalie Semyon Varlamov, and the extra skater helped. Matt Duchene scored to make it 3-2 with 1:18 left, but the Avs couldn't score again to earn a rare point.
"Every night we're getting down and coming back," Duchene said. "We're putting ourselves in too deep of a hole."
Varlamov, coming off a 1-0 shutout win over Nashville, gave up two goals on four shots in the pivotal second period and finished with 10 saves. Giguere stopped each of the seven shots he faced, including three in the second period when he relieved Varlamov.
"Five to 10 minutes during the second period, we fell asleep," Giguere said.
Against the Blackhawks on Sunday, Howard gave up four goals on 14 shots.
Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg missed his second straight game with a groin injury and is day to day.
Abdelkader hit a hip-high rebound out of the air and into the net to put the Red Wings up 1-0 with 4:03 left in the first period. It was his seventh point in eight games but his first since his first three-goal, four-point game March 22 against Anaheim.
Cleary scored on a power play from the front of the crease off a behind-the-net pass from Johan Franzen, who also assisted on the first goal.
Brunner's 11th goal was his first since Feb. 24, when he had two goals and four points against Vancouver.
"It was good for him, real relief for a goal-scorer," Babcock said. "Like most goal-scorers he's probably streaky."
The 27-year-old, first-year player is too old to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, but he doesn't have any regrets about not coming to play in the league sooner.
"I was just not ready," Brunner said. "I had to prove that I was a good player in Switzerland first. It was not about coming over and making the Rookie of the Year. It was about finding the right timing to be comfortable and confident in the NHL. I chose the right way."
Detroit D Carlo Colaiacovo, who had been out with an injured left shoulder, played for the first time since Jan. 21 and for just the third time with the team. ... The Avs are 4-11-1 since entering March with a .500 record. ... The Red Wings improved to 12-5-1 in back-to-back games, and 6-2-1 in the second game when they've played on consecutive days.