- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2001

AVALANCHE 4, BLUES 2

DENVER St. Louis accomplished two of its major goals in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals last night at Pepsi Center. The Blues controlled Colorado's top line, which had scored all four Avalanche goals in Game 1, and they peppered goalie Patrick Roy with 30 shots.

However, the Blues still came up short again, losing 4-2 despite a power-play blast by Al MacInnis that drew them within a goal with 4:08 remaining. Defensemen Ray Bourque and Adam Foote, mucker Shjon Podein and second-liner Chris Drury (into an empty net) scored for the Avalanche as they took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series which resumes tomorrow in St. Louis.

"We didn't win, but we did a lot of things better [than in Game 1]," said Blues right wing Scott Mellanby. "Being down 2-0 is tough, but we're still in this series."

After not scoring for nearly three games (162:57) in the seven-game conference semifinals against Los Angeles, the Avalanche have outscored the Kings and Blues 13-4 in the 161:31 since. While the offense has heated up, Roy has stayed strong. The three-time Cup winner has surrendered just eight goals in his past eight games.

"We all know what Patrick can do and right now, he's at the top of his game," Colorado coach Bob Hartley said.

Colorado, in its fourth conference final since winning the 1996 Cup, is up 2-0 for the first time since. The Avalanche won Game 1 and lost Game 2 in 1997, 1999 and 2000. The Blues, in their first conference final since 1986, have lost as many games in the past three days as they did in the first two rounds against San Jose and Dallas.

St. Louis came out flying, testing Roy three times in the first 80 seconds and gaining a power play thanks to an interference call against Colorado's Greg DeVries. However, the Blues managed a lone shot with the extra skater and the momentum shifted. When an interference penalty on MacInnis gave the Avalanche a power play, it took them just four seconds to take the lead. Alex Tanguay won the faceoff and drew the puck back to the left point to Rob Blake, who passed cross-ice to Bourque. The sure Hall of Famer blasted his first goal this spring and 38th of his 21 postseasons past goalie Roman Turek's glove at 13:22 of the period.

But 85 seconds after Martin Skoula hooked Cory Stillman into the Colorado net at 6:58 of the second period, Mellanby tied the game by deftly redirecting MacInnis' shot from the point past Roy. With 1:56 to go in the period, Foote's shot from the left point caromed off Blues rookie defenseman Bryce Salvador and into the net for the 2-1 lead. It was just Foote's fifth goal in his 106 career playoff games.

"It's tough when you're skating uphill all the time against a team like that," said Blues All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger.

And after Roy needed help from the post to thwart Pavol Demitra down low on a feed from Pierre Turgeon midway through the third period, Podein made it 3-1 by stuffing the puck through Turek's legs on a pretty feed from Drury with 6:39 left. Mellanby drew a penalty on Blake 1:17 later, giving MacInnis the opportunity to make it a one-goal game when he converted a cross-ice pass from fellow defenseman Alex Khavanov.

Turgeon had a great chance to tie the game with less than two minutes to go. Not only did the Blues' top threat fail to score, but after taking an elbow from Foote, he retaliated with a slash and that was the infraction the officials saw. And after Keith Tkachuk of the shorthanded Blues hit the outside of the net with Roy out of position, Drury clinched the victory.

"If you want to go deep in the playoffs, you've got to have everybody chip in," Podein said.


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