Wings Edge Avalanche in Series Opener

By Ray Van Horn, Jr. Copyright 1999

1999 Playoffs


Red Wings


Prior to the much-hyped opening game of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings, newly acquired Red Wing Ulf Samuelsson quoted: "Obviously, this is the most famous rivalry over the last few years, and we've all been watching it from the outside, and watching guys battle hard. And now that I'm going to be a part of it, it's going to be awesome."

To counter, Colorado rustled up the intimidating brawler, Scott Parker, from the junior leagues. The bushy-faced scrapper shaved his pate clean and lurked by the Red Wings bench, taunting them before the game.

All told, ingredients for a classic grudge match between two teams with a history of loathing for the other. True to the shenanigans expected of them, the teams skated, checked and brutalized one another in standard fashion into overtime, and it was the Red Wings who prevailed, 3-2.

Highlighed by countless minor penalties, flying helmets and two major penalties--one of which saw Colorado's Peter Forsberg ejected from the game for boarding Brendan Shanahan's face into a bloody mulch--Game 1 was a vintage slugfest to the bitter end.

In the first period, the Red Wings opened up with a Steve Yzerman power play wrister over Patrick Roy's shoulder on a two-man advantage at 3:54. It was Yzerman's 6th goal of the playoffs. Niklas Linstrom picked up an assist.

The Avalanche claimed the next two goals in the period. After Ulf Samuelsson broke his stick, Theoren Fleury seized the advantage and chipped in Peter Forsberg's rebound off of Detroit's Bill Ransford's leg pad. Ransford started the game in place of Chris Osgood, who is sidelined with an aggravated knee.

Adam Deadmarsh then scored his 4th goal of the post-season at 12:34. Dale Hunter set up the play by firing the puck into Detroit's zone and Adam Foote launched a shot at Bill Ransford, which was deflected by Deadmarsh, making the Colorado advantage at 2-1.

Detroit got even in the second after flirting with disaster (Claude Lemieux had found the net, but was denied as the official's whistle blew beforehand). Slava Koslov squibbled in a power play rebound at 16:30 beneath an outstretched Patrick Roy. Sergei Federov notched an assist.

Colorado found momentum in the third, staging numerous attacks on Bill Ransford, who had started only his first playoff game in three years, and his first overall game in 23 days. Ransford was up to the task, wearing down the Avalanche snipers out to force overtime. He'd blocked 37 saves throughout the game.

The Red Wings took advantage of an exhausted Colorado line as Kirk Maltby slammed the door shut on them at 4:18 into overtime. Darren McCarty and Doug Draper combined to assist Maltby to a 1-0 series lead for Detroit.

Maltby commented, "(Our goal was to) keep the puck moving and wear them down a bit. When the light went on, it was a great feeling."

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