Roy, Avalanche Win 3-0 to Push Detroit to Brink
By Helene Elliott
DENVER, May 16The victory that seemed so certain for the Detroit Red Wings a week ago is being wrested from their failing hands by a team that learned the value of patience and fortitude when confronted by doubt and defeat.
The Colorado Avalanche pushed the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings to the brink of elimination today, riding a 36-save performance from Patrick Roy to a 3-0 victory at McNichols Arena and a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal.
In winning at home for the first time in the series and only the second time in six playoff games, the Avalanche dominated every phase of the game and blunted every effort by Detroit Coach Scotty Bowman to create some offensive sparks.
"We're not embarrassed. Colorado is a pretty good hockey team," Detroit winger Wendel Clark said after his team's third consecutive loss. "The last time I checked, they finished ahead of Detroit in the point standings. . . . You certainly can't say we're not getting shots. You just have to give Colorado credit for playing well and for getting us off our game."
The remaining embers of the Red Wings' dynasty can be snuffed Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. A seventh game, if necessary, will be Thursday in Denver.
"We were down, 2-0 [in the series], and we were at rock bottom," Colorado winger Warren Rychel said. "It's all about pride and heart this time of year, and the last three games we showed that."
The Avalanche -- which was the last team to defeat the Red Wings in the playoffs, the 1996 conference finals -- has surged ahead in the series because of its goaltending, power play, defense and depth, areas in which Detroit was judged as good or better before the series began.
Although the Red Wings had regular goalie Chris Osgood in net for the first time since he sprained his right knee April 27, they lost defenseman Ulf Samuelsson to a groin pull in the first period. Nicklas Lidstrom played nearly 34 minutes and Chris Chelios nearly 33, including a turn up front on one of six futile power plays. Their defensive depth was trumped by the disciplined play of Colorado's defense corps, which rarely left any rebounds for Roy.
"Our defense wasn't as tight as theirs," Detroit right wing Martin Lapointe said, "and that was the difference today."
Their supposed offensive edge was wiped out when Steve Yzerman's line was repeatedly thwarted by Roy, who recorded his 12th career playoff shutout. The Avalanche got a key goal from enforcer Jeff Odgers, a goal from Adam Deadmarsh on a break out of the penalty box and a power-play goal from Peter Forsberg, the NHL playoff scoring leader with four goals and 15 points.
"We really pulled together the last few games and played solid, 60-minute games," said Deadmarsh, whose goal brought him a measure of redemption after he took a needless penalty in the offensive zone. "We had struggled at home, and getting that first goal was so big."
Roy, who has made 30 or more saves in five consecutive games, rarely faced any sustained pressure because his defense kept the Red Wings to the outside and forced many of their shots to go astray.
"They're playing great, and their goaltending is coming up big when they have to," said Detroit's Todd Gill, who replaced Aaron Ward and made his playoff debut. "Right now, they're scoring on their chances, and that makes them the better team."
Yzerman, however, is not willing to concede that distinction. "I don't have any doubt we can come back," the Red Wings' captain said. "We're playing a great team and we have to play very well, but we're certainly not going to lay down and think it's over. We're not going to lay down and die."
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