For the first time in the playoffs, the Red Wings must face the possibility of elimination. In spite of a surge of momentum in the third period and the start of overtime, defensive mistakes allowed the Colorado Avalanche to take a 2-1 overtime victory and a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals.
Detroit did not show dominance in the beginning of the game, as they so often have in this series. Instead, they allowed the Avalanche to keep control of much of the game. Dominik Hasek also looked a little shaky, but they kept the Avalanche out of the net through a penalty and until only 2:49 was left in the first period. Peter Forsberg spun around to elude Freddy Olausson, then got the puck across to Steven Reinprecht going to the front of the net. Reinprecht tried to stuff the puck in the left side, then got it back, carried it behind, and stuffed it into the empty right side before Hasek could get over or before Nick Lidstrom could get back with his stick down.
The Red Wings started to perk up offensively in the second period, but the story was one of missed chances. A centering pass bounced up and over Darren McCarty’s stick. Brett Hull stood waiting and wide open, but the pass hit his skate instead of his stick, and was taken away before he could gather it back. Brendan Shanahan had Patrick Roy cleanly beaten, but the puck rang off the goalpost instead of into the net.
Detroit finally got a break with twenty-eight seconds remaining in the period. Joe Sakic was sent to the penalty box for interference, and most of the power play carried over into the third period. Once play resumed after the intermission, Detroit took control. Hull got the puck to Steve Yzerman at the left side of Roy’s net. Yzerman took the shot from that bad angle, and it banked off of Roy’s back and into the net. Roy tried to cover it up, but the players and officials had seen it?the game was tied at one.
With the momentum from their captain’s goal, the Red Wings were able to apply more pressure. Hasek shook off whatever had been bothering him and came up huge for his team, especially in the last minute of the period when he had to stop a Forsberg shot and rebound from point-blank range. The puck stayed out and the game went to overtime.
Overtime was a frantic scramble by both teams. Again, Yzerman, Shanahan, and Sergei Fedorov all had scoring chances, but Roy held up to the pressure, and the Red Wings finally made the game-ending mistake. Brian Willsie, Chris Drury, and Forsberg got away on a three-on-two rush, and the two Red Wings back both went into the right corner after Willsie with the puck. Willsie got the pass away to Forsberg, who faked out Hasek, then put the puck high as Hasek was dropping to block a low shot.
Shots on net were nearly even, but the Avalanche had a slight edge of twenty-nine over Detroit’s twenty-seven. Game Six of the series will be Wednesday evening back in Denver.
Steve Yzerman’s goal ties him with Gordie Howe’s franchise record for most playoff goals scored.