Avs Dispatch Wings in Series Finale|
By Ray Van Horn, Jr. Copyright 1999
If the Detroit Red Wings wonder what they did wrong in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, one word would sum it up: turnovers. The Colorado Avalanche capitalized on Detroit's miscues to win for the fourth straight game in the series by a score of 5-2, and thwarting the Red Wings' bid to three-peat as Stanley Cup Champions.
The opening period saw a desperate Red Wings squad unleash numerous shots against Colorado's Patrick Roy, who had blanked them in Game 5. He would stop them 35 times in Game 6. In their fervor, however, the defense was compromised as the Avalanche patiently worked Chris Osgood over, taking their shots when available, and seiging three odd man rush attacks.
It was Colorado's third attack that struck paydirt. Peter Forsberg strongarmed Steve Yzerman and broke away with Valeri Kamensky to score on a 2-1 manned advantage at 16:16. Though giving up the goal, it was Osgood who prevented the Avalanche from posting a huge early lead by making 12 of 13 saves in the period. Osgood's luck would soon run out, however.
The second period was a scoring frenzy that nearly saw the Red Wings fall completely impotent.
The Avalanche went up 2-0 on a Milan Hejduk score at 4:18. Hejduk had easily waltzed and juked the puck in the Detroit zone, ultimately allowing Aaron Miller (who is an NHL best +11 rating in the playoffs) to rocket a slapper that was guided in by the rookie, Hejduk, who scored his 5th playoff goal.
As was the case in Game 4, fellow rookie (and shoo-in for the Calder award) Chris Drury lit the lamp at 5:46. Valeri Kaminsky grabbed his second assist of the game as he stole the puck on a flubbed Detroit clear in their own zone, and fired a shot on goal. Sylvain Lefebrve intercepted the rebound and slipped a backhanded pass to Drury, who tallied his 4th point in as many games.
Colorado profited on a silly penalty by Patrick Roy, who was caught slashing Red Wing Tomas Holmstrom's leg. It was Joe Sakic who grabbed a shorthanded goal at 8:16 on an Igor Larionov turnover to Adam Deadmarsh. Sakic chipped in Deadmarsh's rebound past a splashed out Chris Osgood.
The Avalanche appeared on a veritable roll at that point against a thus sparkless and seemingly defeated Red Wings team, that was, until Nicklas Linstrom scored a power play goal at 17:24 that was well executed and coordinated by Steve Yzerman and Wendel Clark.
Twenty-nine seconds later, the Red Wings scored again on Patrick Roy as Todd Gill deflected a Darren McCarty ripper that was disputed as a high stick knockdown. The goal stood, however, as the height of the puck had not surpassed the crossbar, cutting Detroit's deficit to 4-2, giving them life, albeit briefly.
The Avalanche staved off the Red Wings in the third, and added an insurance goal at 13:31. Peter Forsberg impressively notched his second goal on the evening, dragging Igor Larionov down ice with him. Forsberg fought off Larionov's mugging and hooks to outdeke Chris Osgood for the final score of 5-2.
To the credit of the remaining Joe Louis Arena fans, they picked up with a rousing mantra of "Go Wings Go!" in the final minute of the game, even as inevitable elimination loomed near. The crowd also gave their beloved Wings a hearty ovation, even as the Avalanche celebrated on the ice.
According to Peter Forsberg, "It's always a great feeling beating the two-time Stanley Cup champions...after Game 2, (we told ourselves) we gotta slow down a bit. Let them (Detroit) get frustrated. I think we did a great job with that."
The Colorado Avalanche advance to face off against the Dallas Stars in the conference finals. The Avalanche look to test the Stars with their 6-0 road mark through the playoffs, countered by Dallas' 5-0 home post. Peter Forsberg offered advance praise for the Stars by noting, "They've got a great team down there...we've got to keep building."
Copyright©1999 The HockeyNut