Avalanche Pummel Wings to Even Series|
By Ray Van Horn, Jr. Copyright 1999
Debunking the overrated theorem known as home ice advantage, the Colorado Avalanche, through strong rookie play, three point games from Adam Deadmarsh and Peter Forsberg, and a solid performance in net by Patrick Roy, coupled with disciplined defense, convincingly outmatched the Detroit Red Wings for the second game in a row at Joe Louis Arena, taking Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals by a lopsided 6-2 drubbing of the home team.
The Red Wings applied their checking game immediately with a crashing forecheck by Darren McCarty unto Colorado's Sylvain Lefebvre to set a tone that soon fizzled out, though not before Nicklas Lidstrom drew blood by cutting the lip of Colorado's Adam Foote with a high stick to the face.
However, the Avalanche took the Wings out of their game in the first period by scoring early at 1:28. Ace rookie, Chris Drury, was positioned in the right spot to nudge in the rebound past Detroit's Bill Ranford, who continued to sub for the healing Chris Osgood. Sandis Ozolinsh and Adam Deadmarsh each picked up assists.
The Avalanche cruised through the first period, opting to play trap defense instead of mounting further offense, which would ultimately return in the ensuing periods.
Colorado continued to dominate Detroit in the second, even as the Wings' Ulf Samuelsson proved to be a one man wrecking crew, toppling Avalanche linesmen at will. At one point, Samuelsson repetitiously mauled and taunted Theo Fleury, who was sporting 14 facial stitches from Game 3. Fleury, who ditched a protective visor after one period of play, also had to contend with Chris Chelios throughout the game.
Normally, this roughhouse strategm will ingnite the Wings as a team, but Colorado mastered them by opening up a scoring barrage, cementing the Wings in the neutral zone, and snuffing their sharpshooters with Patrick Roy's stoic stoppage.
Adam Deadmarsh scored for the Avalanche at 8:06 of the second period, catching Bill Ranford off guard and effortlessly slipping the biscuit by him. Chris Drury and Jon Klemm figured assists on the play.
Rookie Milan Hejduk blew another one by Ranford at 14:04 on a Peter Forsberg set-up through double coverage. It was Hejduk's 4th goal of the playoffs and his 5th point in his last 7 games. Theo Fleury was also credited with an assist.
Scotty Bowman yanked Ranford at that point and inserted third stringer Norm Maracle for the second game in a row. Ranford had allowed 3 goals on 14 shots. His successor would fare no better.
Peter Forsberg blew the hinges off of the game at 8:22 of the third period, making it 4-0 on a wraparound backhanded wrister past Maracle, having beaten Detroit's Wendel Clark to the play along the boards.
Valeri Kamensky boosted the Avalanche lead at 11:28 as he nudged in Sandis Ozolinsh's slapper. Peter Forsberg was also awarded with his second assist of the game as the Joe Louis faithful began their exodus out of the arena.
The Wings avoided the shutout at 14:39 as Sergei Federov bounced the puck off the skate of Colorado's Greg de Vries, and was further guided into the net by Patrick Roy's skate. Slava Kozlov was given credit for the goal, however.
The Avalanche further confounded the Red Wings as Adam Deadmarsh snatched his second goal of the night at 16:36, as he and Milan Hejduk double-teamed Norm Maracle for the easy score.
Slava Kozlov gave the remaining few devotees a treat as he lashed his second goal of the game on a top-shelf wrister past Patrick Roy at 19:17. Ulf Samuelsson got the assist.
As may seem appropriate for this much heralded series, the Avalanche and the Red Wings ended the game with a large, equipment-shirked skrum that was instigated by Adam Foote from behind the Colorado bench.
Roy concluded the game with 33 saves as the series heads back to Colorado. The home team has failed to win in all four games of the series thus far. Colorado is 5-0 on the road and 1-4 at home, for futher consideration.
To accent this point, Chris Drury commented, "You know it's a crazy game...anything can happen."
Copyright©1999 The HockeyNut