Avs stay alive with OT win over Sharks
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Avs stay alive with OT win over Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Peter Forsberg had no need to look. He knew
Joe Sakic would be in position for his blind backhand pass - and he
knew the Colorado captain would keep the Avalanche in the playoffs.
Sakic scored his second goal 1:54 into overtime and the Avalanche
avoided elimination for the second time, beating the Sharks 2-1
Saturday to cut San Jose's lead to 3-2 in the second-round series.
Sakic also tied it midway through the third period for the Avalanche,
who dominated the final two periods and overtime to hand the Sharks
their first home loss in six playoff games.
Colorado also caused serious cracks in the confidence of the young
Sharks, who seemed to wilt under the pressure of a closeout game. As
demonstrated by Forsberg's chemistry with Sakic, the Avalanche's
veterans have been here before: They rallied from a 3-2 deficit
against the Sharks two years ago.
``It's about momentum, and we've got it now,'' Sakic said.
``Everybody thought we were done, the worst team on the planet. We've
got too many quality guys to go out that way, but it doesn't mean
anything if we don't get the next one.''
Game 6 is Tuesday night in Colorado, with a possible Game 7 scheduled
for Thursday in San Jose.
Sakic, who forced this game with another overtime goal Wednesday, was
in perfect position for Forsberg's deft pass. He beat Evgeni Nabokov
low to the stick side for his seventh goal of the post-season, tying
San Jose's Patrick Marleau for the NHL lead.
``I just felt he was there,'' Forsberg said of Sakic on the decisive
assist. ``The way we played in the second, third and overtime, we
showed a lot of heart. That's how we got to the playoffs. We've had
to work hard for everything in this series, but we're finally
catching some breaks.''
Sakic said simply: ``Peter knew.''
Sakic scored his first goal on a pass from Teemu Selanne, capping 30
minutes of dominant play by the Avalanche's prolific forwards. Sakic,
Forsberg, Selanne and their teammates couldn't get rolling until they
were two periods from summer vacation - but once their high-priced
lineup kicked into gear, the Sharks couldn't keep up.
``We haven't had the momentum in our court yet, so this is fun,''
defenceman Adam Foote said. ``We're very confident. Now we've got to
go home and do the same thing.''
The Avalanche are halfway to the third comeback from an 0-3 series
deficit in NHL history - and after San Jose's confused, tentative
play in Game 5, Colorado seems quite capable of the first such rally
since 1975, when the New York Islanders accomplished the feat.
David Aebischer made 21 saves and possibly turned the tide in his
goalie matchup with Nabokov, who was repeatedly left unprotected by
the Sharks' shoddy defence and backchecking. After getting pulled in
Game 1, Aebischer has allowed just two goals in three games - though
he was barely tested Saturday.
Nabokov made 16 saves, but his teammates admitted they gave their
worst performance of the playoffs. After Vincent Damphousse scored
during a two-man advantage late in the first period, the Sharks
generated just three shots in the next 35 minutes.
``Some guys failed miserably in the last couple of games to get the
job done,'' San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. ``That team was coming
hard. They played with a desperation we hadn't seen from them in this
After several defensive miscues and Colorado near-misses that caused
grumbling in the sellout crowd, the Avalanche finally broke through
with 10:10 left in the third period. Selanne circled the net and
found Sakic, who slipped in for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
The Sharks had won five straight home playoff games, outscoring
opponents 16-5 - but they seem far from wrapping up the franchise's
first trip to the Western Conference finals. After the first period,
they had none of the energy or passion of their first nine playoff
``They didn't do anything special,'' defenceman Kyle McLaren said of
the Avalanche. ``We pretty much gave it to them. They threw
everything at us. ... We usually don't sit back and wait. That's
Notes: Star Colorado D Rob Blake attempted to come back from the
upper-body injury that kept him out of Game 4, but played just one
shift before heading to the locker room. The Avalanche anticipated
Blake's problems, scratching C Riku Hahl and activating D Kurt
Sauer. ... Sharks LW Scott Thornton sat out for the fourth time in
six games due to an undisclosed injury.