DENVER, Colorado -- The Red Wings dominated the better part of Game Four, just as they had done in Game Three. Unfortunately, this time Patrick Roy was the goalie of the hour, and Dominik Hasek was not. Detroit lost 3-2 to the Colorado Avalanche, leaving the Western Conference Final tied at two games apiece.
The Wings placed great offensive pressure on Colorado early, but as in each of the games this series, the Avalanche opened the scoring 7:50 into the game. Rob Blake got the puck past Sergei Fedorov, whose stick had been broken. Blake, fanned on the shot, but Steve Reinprecht eluded the Red Wing defenders and flipped it high into Hasek's net.
The Red Wings have become accustomed to playing from behind in this series, and they didn't let the goal throw them. They instead calmed the play down and took control, waiting for Colorado's goal momentum to dwindle away. Then they took their chance to score, which, ironically, was in a shorthanded situation.
Kirk Maltby was sitting in the penalty box waiting off a call for holding the stick. The Wings played a strong penalty kill, and repeatedly sent the puck down the ice for the Avalanche to chase. Peter Forsberg attempted to send it into the Red Wings' zone, but instead it bounced off of Fedorov and out past the blue line, and Fedorov was away with all his great speed, going in all alone against Roy. He deked and sent off a quick shot from point-blank range, and the puck slid right between Roy's legs.
Unfortunately for the Wings, the Avalanche regained the lead early in the third period. Detroit had cleared the puck from their zone, but not by much, and Greg DeVries flipped it back in onside. It went straight to Joe Sakic, streaking up center, and his hard wrist shot beat Hasek cleanly and gave the Avalanche back their game momentum.
The Avalanche went on to take their first two-goal lead of the series late in the third. Forsberg, Reinprecht, and Chris Drury got away on a three-on-two rush. Forsberg made a centering pass through the air, and Drury got enough of his stick on it to redirect it into Hasek's net.
The Red Wings did not sit back and wait for the game to be over, even though it was late and they were trailing by two; they pulled their goalie and sent six skaters out to harass Roy. Brett Hull turned a quick wrist shot into a goal on a nice feed from Tomas Holmstrom behind the net, but there were only three seconds remaining, the faceoff came back to center ice, and the game ended 3-2.
The Red Wings outshot the Avalanche thirty-three to twenty-two. Ten of Colorado's shots came in the third period. Neither team scored a power play goal.
Game Five of the series will be back in Detroit on Monday evening.
Notes: Igor Larionov made his return to the lineup today, after sitting out with a sprained knee. Rookie Jason Williams was left out of the game to make room for Larionov.... Sergei Fedorov led the Red Wings with a game-high eight shots on net..... Maybe Brett Hull's late goal will give Patrick Roy something to think about on the plane ride back to Hockeytown?