- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2001

DEVILS 4, AVALANCHE 1

DENVER After Patrick Roy's blunder in Game 4, news reports here blamed the Colorado Avalanche goalie for everything short of the Johnstown flood. And last night things got even worse.

Roy let in a third of the six shots he faced in the first period at Pepsi Center, and New Jersey took advantage of several Colorado misplays en route to a 4-1 victory over the Avalanche and a 3-2 edge in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup finals.

A win in Thursday night's Game 6 at Continental Airlines Arena would give the Devils their second Cup in a row and third since 1995. If Colorado forces a Game 7, it will be here Saturday night.

"Tonight we worked and when we do, good things happen for us," Devils coach Larry Robinson said.

Said Colorado coach Bob Hartley: "In the first period, we made some bad decisions which resulted in odd-man situations. There was no reason for this. Sometimes you're too anxious and you get caught."

The Devils, as usual, got goals from some unusual sources including Alexander Mogilny, who hadn't scored in more than a month. They also got goals from Patrik Elias, Sergei Brylin and John Madden, while Alex Tanguay scored for the Avalanche.

New Jersey played without star center Jason Arnott. but it didn't seem to matter. The Devils pounded Colorado physically and took advantage of errors with ease, backing some excellent goaltending from Martin Brodeur, who had 22 saves.

"If we can get Alex and [Scott] Gomez picking up the slack for Arnott being out, it's always a good thing," Robinson said. "There's no doubt that when you have a player of that magnitude out, everyone else has to elevate their game to make up for the loss. Sometimes when things like that happen it brings a team closer together and brings out the best in some players."

But things won't be easy for the Devils on Thursday night. For one thing, Continental Airlines Arena has been the toughest place for the Devils to win during postseason: They are just 7-5, and Colorado is 6-3 on the road.

"Unfortunately, they're not going to roll over and give us the game," Brodeur said. "It doesn't mean anything, what I did tonight. I have to be really sharp in the next game and the one after that, if we need it."

Robinson agreed.

"We have to go out and play every shift like it's our last shift," he said. "We can't do crazy things, because [the Avalanche are] an explosive team, very well coached. You can't look past your next shift."

With Colorado facing elimination, there was speculation that one of its stars, center Peter Forsberg, might be rushed back to the lineup at least on the power play, on which he excels from emergency surgery to remove his spleen. Forsberg had surgery hours after the Avalanche closed out Los Angeles on May 9, and it was said at the time he would be out until training camp. But Forsberg was on skates in a week, and it was thought he might be pressed into service or press himself into service.

However, Hartley seemed to rule out that possibility after the game, saying, "There is absolutely no way Forsberg can be in the lineup," and then repeating himself.

Tanguay's goal was the high point for Colorado. The sequence started with defenseman Ray Bourque turning the puck over on a power play, leading to a Devils' 3-on-1 rush. Bourque was back to defend, went down to block a shot and broke up the chance, starting a break the other way. Tanguay took a pass from Joe Sakic and blasted away. His drive glanced off Brodeur's gloved left hand and into the cage halfway through the first, equaling Elias' score off a 2-on-1 three minutes into the game.

With 1:13 to go in the first, the Devils caught Colorado in a bad line change. Mogilny, a 43-goal scorer during the regular season, broke a 14-game goal-less streak with a wrist shot off Roy's right pad to move New Jersey in front for good.

Brylin deflected a Mogilny drive past Roy five minutes into the second on a power play for a 3-1 lead, and Madden scored in the closing minutes of the game for insurance.


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