- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2001

AVALANCHE 4, DEVILS 0

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. For the second year in a row, the New Jersey Devils wasted a chance to clinch a Stanley Cup championship at home.

The Colorado Avalanche's penalty killers nullified numerous rushes by the Devils and turned the cheers into choruses of boos at Continental Airlines Arena last night with a 4-0 victory, setting up a seventh game tomorrow night at Pepsi Center in Denver. The best-of-7 finals have been reduced to a best-of-1.

Chances are New Jersey will be favored. The Devils' home playoff record fell to 7-6 with last night's loss, giving road teams a record of 43-42 overall during this playoff season. Colorado is 8-4 at home during the postseason, but New Jersey is 8-3 on the road.

The scenario was similar to last June. New Jersey had a chance to oust the Dallas Stars in Game 5 but lost at home in triple overtime 1-0 on a goal by Mike Modano. The Devils won the next game in Dallas 2-1 on an overtime goal by Jason Arnott.

"The players took charge. It was a big game for us," Colorado coach Bob Hartley said. "It was do-or-die, and those guys deserve a lot of credit. They played Avalanche hockey, and we didn't get caught up in other situations. We were very patient despite the fact we were facing elimination. I felt our players showed lots of poise."

What this does, among other things, is keep the Raymond Bourque saga alive. Bourque, the veteran of 22 NHL seasons, has played more games 1,825 than any other player who has not won a Cup. He spent 20 seasons in Boston but was traded to Colorado to give him a better chance to get his name on the trophy.

Adam Foote, Ville Nieminen, Chris Drury and Alex Tanguay scored for Colorado on the first 15 shots against Martin Brodeur, who had some odd bounces go against him that resulted in Avalanche goals.

But the game was settled earlier. Colorado goalie Patrick Roy could not be beaten during five power-play opportunities in the first two periods for New Jersey, proving time and time again he may be the premiere money goaltender of all time. He is shooting for his fourth Stanley Cup triumph and has moved to the forefront in the race for the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the playoff MVP. He already has two of those.

"Patrick is the story of our playoffs," Hartley said. "He's giving us a chance to win every game. He's giving us reasons to believe. Patrick was simply Patrick in the first period; we took charge after that. He gave us a couple big saves in the second and third, and that's the story of the game."

The shutout was the 19th of Roy's playoff career, extending the record for playoff shutouts he already owns. He made 24 saves, many of them easy.

Roy may have been the story of the game, but he had help from his friends, who took advantage of openings and breaks, making their own when necessary.

"We wanted to come out and give our best effort," Drury said. "In a game like this, you come out and you lose, you can look yourself in the mirror and know you gave it everything you have. You can live with yourself. [In Game 5] we certainly didn't give anything near out best effort, so that was our goal."

On the injury front, New Jersey got back its star center, Arnott, who was held out of Game 5 after receiving what many thought was a concussion in the opening seconds of Game 4. Arnott was knocked senseless when he was struck on the left temple by a puck Colorado center Stephane Yelle was trying to clear out of the zone.

An injured player who did not make it back was Colorado center Peter Forsberg, who had his spleen removed in emergency surgery May 10. Forsberg was back on skates in less than a week, but he has yet to skate with the team in a practice.

"No, no chance," Forsberg said last night when asked if he might return. "The doctors told me not to play. It doesn't feel good enough for me to play. I had hoped to get back, but it didn't get [well] enough to be able to play."

Watching the series and not being able to play, Forsberg indicated, was more painful than the surgery.

"The St. Louis series was fine because we were up the whole time," Forsberg said. "Now we are facing a tough time. It's tough to watch. You get so nervous. You just want to get out there and play, but I know it's not going to be possible."

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