Avs Finish Sweep of Wings in Home-and-Home Series

Powered by two disputed goals and the netminding of Patrick Roy, the Colorado Avalanche completed their two-game sweep of the Detroit Red Wings with a five-to-three victory in Denver.

The Red Wings were leading at the start of the third and looked as though they might split the series before the Avalance scored twice to take the lead. They added an empty-net goal late in the period.

With Detroit leading by one eight minutes into the final period, Adam Foote beat Detroit netminder Curtis Joseph while Colorado forward Peter Forsberg was in the crease. An irate Joseph quickly turned to the referees, who ruled that the play was not reviewable and the goal would stand.

Almost five minutes later, Colorado’s Steve Reinprecht attempted a wrap-around as Joseph scrambled to the side of the net. The puck was deflected off of Radim Vrbata’s skate and Joseph appeared to make the save, but upon review the goal was allowed.

Detroit had taken the lead on two goals by Tomas Homstrom and one by Brendan Shanahan after the Avalanche opened the scoring.

At 7:31 of the first period, Milan Hejduk beat Joseph to put Colorado on the board. Three minutes later, while the Red Wings were on the power play, Tomas Holmstrom skated in on Roy and put the pick past him to tie the game.

Holmstrom got his second of the game just under a minute later, putting a bouncing puck past Roy during a scramble around the net to put the Wings in the lead.

Hejduk’s second of the game re-tied things. While Colorado enjoyed a two-man advantage Hejduk beat Joseph again and evened things up with just over five minutes left in the first period.

Shanahan gave the Wings the lead again early in the second. When a Sergei Fedorov shot got deflected to the side of the net, a wide-open Shanahan flipped the puck into the net.

Hejduk completed the hat trick with Colorado’s empty-net goal, which deflected off a Red Wing stick on the way down the ice.

Not Playoff-Level Yet, But Fine Hockey Anyway

In spite of what you may have heard, this highly anticipated matchup between the Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche did not have playoff intensity. (Sorry.) Fans remember the playoffs better than the average hockey analyst does. Even the least of the playoff games has an intensity that even the best of the regular season games cannot possibly match. This game was a treat to see, but it is nothing compared to what we will get in the spring, if all goes well.

That being said, this was a most excellent regular season game. It didn’t matter that the Avs are fighting to make the playoffs at all, while the Wings are playing to stay atop their division and gain points towards the conference lead. The old rivalry was not quite in full swing, but it was definitely there, and will almost certainly escalate as we head down the stretch towards the playoffs. The play was intense by both teams, but the Red Wings stuck to their game plan, avoided most of the defensive lapses that have plagued them lately, and came out with a 4-2 victory over the Avalanche.

Maybe Colorado was a little bit nervous to meet the Wings again, after taking the 7-0 Game Seven loss back in May. Maybe they weren’t. They couldn’t have been pleased when the Wings opened the game the same way they started Game Seven: by scoring a goal on their first shot. The Avalanche failed to clear the puck from their zone, and Darren McCarty picked it up. Adam Foote dropped down to block the shot, but McCarty got the pass away to Kris Draper streaking up the left side. Patrick Roy had been watching McCarty the whole time, and turned his head just in time to see Draper put the puck into the wide open side of the net.

The Avalanche made some scoring attempts at the other end of the rink, but Detroit’s defensive coverage was very good through the whole period. All attackers were covered, many shots were blocked, and Curtis Joseph was given a clear view of most of the shots that did manage to get through.

Mathieu Dandenault opened Detroit’s lead early in the second. He had been given a tripping penalty at the end of the first which carried over. As he stepped back onto the ice, Kirk Maltby sent a strong pass his way, and Dandenault was off on a two-on-one rush. This time Foote did take the passing lane away, but Dandenault simply took the shot, and it sailed past Roy.

The Avalanche came on much harder in the second period, outshooting the Wings by 16-4 (Detroit had a lot of shots blocked or sent wide), forcing Joseph to work hard and show some of the skill he will need if he is to be a playoff goalie in the Western Conference. After a particularly spectacular series of saves by Joseph, Peter Forsberg made what looked like a harmless play, but it wound up in the net. He got the puck from Greg DeVries in the corner, then brought it right up to the side of the net and stuffed it into the tiny space left by Joseph moving his stick just slightly out in front of him.

Dan Hinote evened the game for Colorado early in the third. Dean McAmmond sped across the blue line at center and passed left to Serge Aubin, who centered the puck. Hinote was speeding towards the net, and the puck bounced off his stick and in past Joseph.

A bad line change by the Avalanche led to their undoing. Joe Sakic passed the puck back across the blue line to Foote, but Foote’s replacement had already stepped off the bench, so Foote didn’t play the puck because he didn’t want the team to take a penalty for having too many men on the ice. In the confusion, Brendan Shanahan was able to sneak in and steal the puck. He used a pair of Colorado defensemen as a screen and wristed a hard shot between them and past Roy.

Joseph made a wonderful glove save against Sakic to keep the lead for Detroit with only 2:23 remaining. The Avalanche pulled Roy from the net, but the extra skater did not help them regain control against the Wings. Brett Hull made a strong pass across the width of the rink to Shanahan, and Shanahan put the puck into the empty net to seal the win.

Roy made 19 saves on 22 shots over the night, while Joseph made 36 saves on 38 shots. The Red Wings continue down the road towards the playoffs with a Sunday night game at home against the Northwest Division leaders, the Vancouver Canucks.

Luc Robitaille was a healthy scratch for this game, giving Sean Avery a chance to scrap with the Avalanche…. This was Patrick Roy’s 999th career game. It could have been his 1000th, but he chose not to play in Colorado’s last game. Hmm, could it have something to do with not wanting the possibility of having Brett Hull score goal #700 in that milestone game?

Avs Acquire Morris

The Colorado Avalanche boosted their defense Tuesday, acquiring young defenseman Derek Morris from the Calgary Flames in a multiplayer deal involving clutch performer Chris Drury.

The Avalanche sent Drury and fellow forward Stephane Yelle to the Flames for Morris and veteran forwards Jeff Shantz and Dean McAmmond.

Morris was Calgary’s highest-scoring defenseman with thirty assists and a total of thirty-four points in only sixty-one games.

Drury scored twenty-one goals and notched twenty-five assists for the Avalanche last season. He had three game-winning goals in Colorado’s playoff run. Yelle had five goals and twelve assists.

Shantz played only forty games last season due to injury. He started his ten-year career with the Chicago Blackhawks and was traded to Calgary in 1998.

McAmmond joins his fifth NHL team, having played for Edmonton, Chicago and Philadelphia before joining Calgary last season. His twenty-one goals and thirty assists were good for third in Flames’ team scoring.

Morris will fill the void in the Avalanche defense left by the departure of Darius Kasparaitis, who signed this summer with the New York Rangers. He joins Rob Blake and Adam Foote as the strength of the Colorado blue line.

Colorado defenseman Lance Pitlick announced his retirement today.

The Staring Contest

The two previous games of the Western Conference were remarkably high-scoring, considering that each team has a highly touted world-class goaltender. Game Three was the goaltending showdown that the media and fans have been looking for. The game was tied at one goal apiece as the overtime started. Patrick Roy finally blinked, and the Red Wings took a 2-1 victory to gain a 2-1 lead in the series.

The low scoring should not be completely attributed to goaltending. The Red Wings tightened down and kept better control of the game. Scotty Bowman shook up the lines a little by moving Jason Williams up to center a line with Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan, and putting Sergei Fedorov in between Luc Robitaille and Tomas Holmstrom. He also changed the defense slightly by making sure that Jiri Fischer and Chris Chelios would square off against Joe Sakic’s line instead of Peter Forsberg‘s line.

The “Grind Line” of Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, and Darren McCarty played superbly, keeping Colorado’s first line penned in their own end for much of their ice time in the first period. The Red Wings also played a more disciplined game?this time they did not take an early penalty. The Avalanche took the first penalty, an interference call on Rob Blake, but they played a frantic penalty kill which kept the Red Wings from setting up a quality scoring play.

Draper took an interference call for the Wings a few minutes later, and the Avalanche put their power play to good use. Sakic shot the puck from the blue line, and Rob Blake tipped the puck in front of the net. It deflected up and over Dominik Hasek‘s shoulder to give the Avalanche the lead.

The second period was played more tightly by both teams. The Red Wings shook off Blake’s goal and continued to control. The defense took a more active role in trying to score, and Hasek made the big saves when he was called upon.

Detroit’s patience finally paid off 5:50 into the third period. Sergei Fedorov shot the puck from the left wing side. The rebound got away from Roy and bounced off of Greg DeVries, then off the toe of Luc Robitaille’s skate, and into the empty side of the net.

Play continued tightly until the overtime period. Then the teams unleashed their offense, and the goalies showed why they have both been considered the “greatest goalie in the world”. Hasek was especially careful to stop a breakaway shot by Chris Drury, the overtime goal scorer from Game Two. Finally, during four-on-four play resulting from offsetting minor penalties to McCarty and Adam Foote, the Red Wings put the puck past Roy.

Hasek cleared the puck up to Yzerman, who passed across to Freddy Olausson flying up center ice. Olausson fired the puck just as he gained the blue line. Roy was partially screened by one of his defensemen Marty Skoula, and could not even see the puck until it was in his net.

Detroit dominated the game in terms of shots on net; they led forty-two to twenty-one. Game Four of the Western Conference Final will be Saturday afternoon in Denver.

This is the first time this year that the Avalanche have allowed more than forty shots on net in a post-season game…. Freddy Olausson’s goal was his first playoff goal in over ten years.

Stirring It Up

Three times, the Colorado Avalanche took a one-goal lead. Three times more, the Red Wings answered to tie. But in overtime, the Wings were not able to break the pattern and score first, and the Avalanche won 4-3 to tie the series at one game apiece.

As in Game One, the Avalanche opened the scoring on an early power play. Steve Duchesne was sitting in the box on an interference call. The Avalanche won the faceoff in Detroit’s zone, and Alex Tanguay got it away to Peter Forsberg open on the right wing side. Forsberg threw the puck towards the net, and Tanguay was on hand to redirect it past Dominik Hasek.

Detroit’s first goal came midway through the first period. Brett Hull passed from the left side out to Boyd Devereaux in the high slot. Devereaux wrestled the puck away from Adam Foote, spun around and fired it. The puck whistled by Foote and over Patrick Roy‘s right shoulder, right into the net.

The Red Wings came on strong in the second period. Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, and Steve Yzerman, with Mathieu Dandenault and Steve Duchesne backing them up on defense, had some especially good chances and pressure in the Colorado zone. Even so, the Avalanche again got the first goal of the period. Martin Skoula took a shot from the blue line which bounced like a pinball off of several players before finally angling off the skate of Forsberg and into Hasek’s net.

Detroit answered shorthanded. Jiri Fischer had been sent off for roughing. The Wings cleared the puck down to Colorado’s end, and Roy came out of his net to clear it away. Kirk Maltby intercepted the clear and came in all alone. Roy backed up, but couldn’t really get set, and Maltby deked the puck behind Roy and in for the tying goal.

Greg DeVries regained the lead for the Avalanche just over five minutes into the third period. The puck went down behind Hasek’s net, and everyone went in after it?except for DeVries, trailing the play. Stephen Reinprecht got to the puck first and centered it for DeVries, who was able to wrist a shot past Hasek.

Reinprecht then cost his team a goal by taking an interference penalty near the end of an Avalanche power play. The resulting power play for the Red Wings was not a full two minutes, but it didn’t need to be. Nick Lidstrom deliberately shot the puck just wide of the net, and it bounced back in front of the goal line, where Roy hit it with the bottom of his skate and put it into his own net.

The Wings took control of the game for the rest of the third period, trying to gain their first lead of the game, but Roy made some key saves and the game went to overtime. Just over two minutes in, Chris Drury broke a scoring drought to give the Avalanche the win. Forsberg intercepted a bad clearing pass, leaving only Fischer back to defend Hasek. Forsberg’s shot rebounded to Reinprecht, who passed across the crease to Drury. Drury put the shot high into the top corner to end the game.

The Red Wings outshot the Avalanche, thirty-three to twenty-six. Both teams were one for five on power plays. Game Three of this intensifying Western Conference Final will be Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Jason Williams played again in place of Igor Larionov, still listed as day to day with a knee injury?. Steve Yzerman’s assist on Nick Lidstrom’s goal was his 100th career playoff assist.

Grind Line on the Move!

The war to win the Western Conference is on. The Red Wings won the first battle. The fans contributed octopus missiles. And Darren McCarty was the star of the game, scoring his first hat trick ever to give the Red Wings a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche and a 1-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals.

The game, their first since defeating the St. Louis Blues a week ago, got off to a slow start for the Red Wings. The Avalanche still had momentum from their Wednesday night victory over the San Jose Sharks, and they were able to score the first goal of the game. Brendan Shanahan was called on a questionable interference penalty, and the Avalanche got to work. Joe Sakic got the puck from Adam Foote and managed to squeeze in between both Chris Chelios and Nick Lidstrom and beat Dominik Hasek with a quick wrist shot.

The Red Wings answered with a power play goal of their own late in the period. Mike Keane had been sent to the box for goaltender interference. Tomas Holmstrom went to the front of the net to screen Patrick Roy. Shanahan took a shot on net from the left point, and Holmstrom attempted to deflect it. He was knocked down, but the rebound came back to him, and he put it into the net while sitting on the ice, with 1:12 left in the period.

The second period was tighter for both teams. Hasek held off an assault by the Avalanche in the middle of the period, but kept them out of the net until only 6:24 was left in the period. Sakic, Alex Tanguay, and Milan Hejduk got away on a three-on-two rush. The rebound from Sakic’s shot came free to Tanguay, and he passed across the goal crease to the wide-open Hejduk, who put it in the net.

Detroit tied the game back up just a few minutes later. Pavel Datsyuk and Boyd Devereaux carried the puck in on a two-on-one rush. Datsyuk got the rebound from his own shot and fired again. The puck bounced off the goalie again, but Brett Hull came in all alone trailing the play and put the rebound high past Roy.

The third period was all Detroit. Darren McCarty gave the Red Wings their first lead of the game less than two minutes in. Chelios got the puck out from a scrum along the boards and sent it ahead to McCarty. McCarty waited for Foote to drop in an attempt to block the shot, then blasted the puck past Foote, off of Roy, and into the net.

The Red Wings had to kill off a boarding penalty to Luc Robitaille, which they did neatly. The Avalanche never got a chance to set anything up on that one. Time began to dwindle down for Colorado, and they got caught in Detroit’s zone, allowing McCarty, Kirk Maltby, and Jiri Fischer to get away on a three-on-one rush. Fischer stepped back to keep Peter Forsberg from getting back to defend, and McCarty looked llike he might pass across to Maltby but instead fired hard from the right wing side. The puck went in just over Roy’s shoulder.

Roy got caught behind the net trying to settle a shot in by Sergei Fedorov, and thus was out of position to stop McCarty’s third goal. The puck came free to Maltby, who threw it on net. Roy threw himself in front to block the shot, but McCarty was right there to get the rebound and flip it over the sprawled goaltender.

Tanguay did score once more for the Avalanche during a cross-checking penalty to Fischer, and Colorado did pull Roy from the net to send in the extra attacker, but by then it was too late. The Red Wings had shaken off the cobwebs from their week off, and the game was over.

The final shots on net were thirty to twenty-seven in Detroit’s favor. Game 2 of the Conference Final will be Monday night at the Joe.

Patrick Roy has an alarming 9-0 record in playoffs for the game immediately following one in which he has given up five or more goals. But if anyone can snap that streak, it would be the Red Wings?. Jason Williams was in for Igor Larionov once again. Scotty Bowman stated that Larionov was getting ready to return soon, after recovering from a sprained knee?. Steve Yzerman told reporters he was glad to see Darren McCarty score his hat trick. “Believe it or not, Mac has pretty good hands…and we may never see that again!” he laughed after the game.


A milestone goal, an octopus, an epic brawl, and sewing up the Western Conference lead all in the same game….. It must be getting near playoff time! The Red Wings and Avalanche showed the world that their bitter rivalry is far from dead, as the Wings posted a 2-0 victory.

The first two periods went by mildly enough as the teams felt out each other’s defenses. Dominik Hasek and Patrick Roy kept the puck out of their nets, in spite of power plays and scoring chances for both teams. The Red Wings and Avalanche looked to be fairly equal in goaltending, defense, and offense.

It was in the third period that the game became interesting. Detroit gained over a minute of five-on-three power play opportunity on penalties to Alex Tanguay and Adam Foote, and they were able to take the advantage. Nick Lidstrom passed from the right point to Brendan Shanahan at his usual position on the left wing side, and Shanahan sent off a laser-guided one-time shot that ripped past Roy and into the back of the net, finally scoring his 500th career goal after an eight game goal slump. A Detroit fan in the crowd saluted Shanahan in traditional style, tossing a slimy octopus onto the ice for the Pepsi Center rink staff to clean up.

Shortly thereafter, Martin Skoula dumped Kirk Maltby into Roy’s net, and Roy decided he wanted to fight. Maltby was surprised, but perfectly willing to take the gloves off and throw a few punches. That set off a fight between Sean Avery and Pascal Trepanier in the corner, leaving Trepanier’s lip bruised and bleeding. Finally, everyone on the ice was drawn into the fight, including Hasek, who came all the way from the other end of the rink, dropping gloves and equipment on his way to stick up for the rest of his team. He wound up stepping on his own goal stick and falling, bowling Roy over rather than fighting, but the officials had to keep the two separated while they shouted insults at each other.

The resulting penalty tangle gave Colorado a power play, but Hasek and the penalty killing unit regained their focus with a quickness, giving the Avalanche no chance to score.

Boyd Devereaux gave the Red Wings an insurance goal with just under seven minutes left to play. Brett Hull took a blue line pass from Lidstrom and fired on goal, and Devereaux got just enough contact with the puck to put it into Roy’s net.

The Red Wings ran into trouble at the end of the period. Darren McCarty was sent to the penalty box for hooking, and during the Avalanche power play, Mike Keane purposely fell on Hasek. Chris Chelios took exception to this, and cross-checked Keane in the back. Several times. Finally, the referees called the penalty on Chelios, and when the defenseman argued back, he was given another two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, as well as a game misconduct.

This would have put the Red Wings shorthanded for the remainder of the game, over four minutes, had Radim Vrbata not been penalized for high-sticking Kris Draper a few seconds later. Colorado had nearly two minutes of power play time left when the four-on-four was over, and they pulled Roy from the net to gain a six-on-four advantage. Hasek stayed sharp, however, and the Avalanche left the game scoreless.

Roy stopped twenty-four of twenty-six shots over the course of the game, and Hasek stopped all thirty-one of the shots the Avalanche fired on his net, moving him into sole first place as the shutout leader among active goaltenders and putting him three wins away from Terry Sawchuk‘s all-time franchise record for most wins in one season.

The Red Wings’ next game will be Monday night against the Nashville Predators.

Today’s win guaranteed the Red Wings the top spot in the Western Conference. One more loss or two more ties by the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, and the Red Wings will have earned the President’s Trophy for most points in a season… Brendan Shanahan is in good company, scoring his 500th career goal against Patrick Roy “” Steve Yzerman did the same thing, 158 goals ago.