avalanche 3, devils 1
By Adrian Dater
Denver Post Sports Writer
For the Colorado Avalanche, that is not something to be pessimistic
about. Because, if the Avs can win two more games out of a potential
next four, the Stanley Cup will be theirs.
The Avalanche got halfway home to the Cup by beating the defending
NHL champion New Jersey Devils 3-1 at Continental Airlines Arena on
Thursday night, winning in this building for the first time since
moving to Denver in 1995.
The Old Man of the Mountains, Ray Bourque, was most responsible for
it being so, as it was his blast of a slap shot over the shoulder of
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur that broke a 1-1 tie early in the third
period. Rookie Dan Hinote added a goal Patrick Roy did not need to
give the Avs a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game 4 set
for Saturday night.
Taking a faceoff win from Joe Sakic with the Avs on the power play to
start the third period, Bourque moved a couple of feet to his left
before firing a slapper just to the left of Brodeur's face mask.
Bourque, 40, set a Finals record by being the oldest man in NHL
history to score, eclipsing the previous mark of Jean Beliveau.
"For me, yeah, I guess I could say it was probably the biggest goal
I've scored," Bourque said. "It has been awhile. It was a big one,
but it was a big team effort."
The Avs overcame an early 1-0 deficit and a rash of first-period
penalties that put them short-handed much of the time, including a 5-
on-3 disadvantage for 34 seconds in a 1-1 game.
"That changed the whole momentum of the game," Devils coach Larry
Robinson said. "It was when we had the 5-on-3 and didn't score. It
gave them life, and we just didn't respond very well after that."
Indeed, the Avs got stronger after Jason Arnott scored the first goal
of the game, a one-timer through the five-hole of Roy on the power
play, just 3:16 into the game. Rookie Martin Skoula tied it up at
10:38, with a wrister over Brodeur's left shoulder from between the
circles, after a nice setup from behind the net by Shjon Podein.
For Skoula, whose playing time has see-sawed throughout the playoffs,
the goal was a big confidence booster.
"It was nice when it went in. It was a good pass to me, and I got
lucky," Skoula said.
The Avs played an excellent second period, outshooting the Devils 11-
3. But they got nothing on the scoreboard from it, as Brodeur was
solid. He made dandy stops of Milan Hejduk, Sakic and Alex Tanguay to
preserve the tie.
At the end of the second period, Devils forward Patrik Elias
(scoreless in the series) stole a puck along the boards from Roy and
fired a shot that grazed the outside of the right goal post. It would
have been a killer goal against the Avs probably, as they were on the
power play thanks to Arnott's boarding violation on Avs defender Adam
Foote. But with the game still tied, the Avs regrouped and took it to
the Devils in the first 10 minutes of the third.
Bourque's goal was followed up by Hinote's score, as he finished off
a 2-on-1 break with Finnish linemate Ville Nieminen, after Nieminen
took a Chris Drury pass in the neutral zone and broke in free.
"You look at the goal they scored," Avs coach Bob Hartley said, "and
it was them typically driving to the net. It was a very simple play,
but a big one."
"I give all the credit to my linemates," Hinote said. "I passed it
over to Drury, and he had a great pass to Nieminen, who had a lot of
speed coming in. He made a great (backhand) pass to me, and I had an
open net. All I had to do was put it in. So, I had the easy part."
From there, the Avs packed it in defensively, mostly just icing the
puck out of the zone, only occasionally venturing an offensive foray.
When play was stopped with 3:46 remaining, Devils fans made a mass
exodus to the parking lot. Devils fans are known for being among the
most apathetic in the NHL, but leaving so early, with the Devils down
only two goals, seemed to shock even Robinson, who said maybe it
would have been "nice" if Devils fans could have offered a little
Even though the Devils don't get much support from their fans, Foote
knows beating them in Game 4 will be the Avs' toughest challenge of
"We respect that team a lot, and we play with maybe a little bit of
fear against them," Foote said. "We have to. They're the Stanley Cup