Detroit Buried by Avalanche in Game 3
By Harry Atkins
DETROIT Colorado Avalanche players don't know why they play better on the road. They don't care, either. They just hope it continues.
"At home, I think that maybe we try to do too much,'' center Peter Forsberg said after the Avalanche's 5-3 victory Tuesday night over the Detroit Red Wings. "On the road, there isn't that pressure, and we seem to relax and not force things.''
The Avalanche, 4-0 on the road in the playoffs, ended Detroit's playoff winning streak at 11 games, dating back to last season.
"I think the only difference was that we put the puck in the back of the net five times,'' said Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy, who stopped 44 shots.
The Red Wings, seeking their third consecutive Stanley Cup, still have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 second-round series, which continues Thursday at Joe Louis Arena. Game 5 will be Sunday in Denver.
"We are playing really well on the road,'' Roy said. "And no matter why that is, we need to do it one more time and get back to Colorado at 2-2.''
With recently released POW Christopher Stone watching from the box of Detroit owner Mike Ilitch, the Avalanche got goals from Claude Lemieux, Theoren Fleury, Dale Hunter, Chris Drury and Aaron Miller.
Steve Yzerman, Tomas Holmstrom and Vyacheslav Kozlov scored for the Red Wings.
"Maybe it's good that somebody reminds us how it feels to lose an important hockey game,'' Detroit forward Sergei Fedorov said. "Once you get that spanking, that's when you wake up. We know we have to play better.''
The charm wore off for backup goaltender Bill Ranford, who had won the first two games at Colorado. This time, Ranford let five of the first 23 shots get past him.
"I'm just disappointed,'' Ranford said. "But, you play this game 27 years and I guess you expect nights like this once in a while.''
Ranford, the 1990 NHL playoff MVP with Edmonton, was starting his third consecutive game in goal in place of the injured Chris Osgood, who is out with a sprained right knee.
Despite playing little since being obtained along with three others before the March 23 trading deadline, Ranford had been remarkably solid during the first two games including a 4-0 victory in Game 2.
Detroit Coach Scotty Bowman wouldn't say who might be in goal for Game 4, but it's likely to be Ranford again.
"We haven't even thought about that,'' Bowman said. "He [Osgood] hasn't been on the ice since Sunday morning. He got better, then he kind of leveled off.''
The Avalanche, who had been preaching self-discipline while losing twice in Denver, took only one penalty in the first period and skated off with a 2-1 lead.
Colorado blew the game open with three goals the first each for Hunter, Drury and Miller in the first 5:05 of the second period.
Still, the sellout crowd of 19,983 gave Ranford a rousing ovation as he was replaced at that point by Norm Maracle.
"They're a pretty knowledgeable group,'' Ranford said. "They knew it wasn't for lack of effort. That meant a lot to me.''
Yzerman gave Detroit the early lead at 7:07 of the first, a career-best ninth for the Red Wings' captain. Yzerman scored eight in 18 games in 1996, the last time Detroit failed to win the Cup. The team record is 10 by Petr Klima in 1988 and Sergei Fedorov last year.
Lemieux tied it at 11:00 while Colorado had a two-man advantage.
"I think that kind of turned the tide for them,'' Bowman said.
The Avalanche took the lead on Fleury's fifth goal, with 3:01 left in the first. After Colorado went up 5-1, Holmstrom and Kozlov scored late goals for Detroit.
The Red Wings outshot Colorado 47-36, thanks to a 21-5 edge in the third period.
"We were really tired in the third period, but Patrick was just awesome,'' Miller said. "There are times when we need him to carry us on our back, and he did it again tonight.''
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press