- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2001

DEVILS 2, AVALANCHE 1

DENVER New Jersey played its brand of hockey for 60 minutes last night, forcing the Colorado Avalanche to retreat against a tide that at times threatened to engulf the home team.

The Devils evened the Stanley Cup finals at a game apiece with a solid 2-1 victory, dominating Colorado through the second period and forcing the home team into several key mistakes.

The two New Jersey goals came from highly unlikely sources little used Bob Corkum and Turner Stevenson and backed the usual solid goaltending of Martin Brodeur.

"I know Raymond doesn't have a Stanley Cup," coach Larry Robinson said of Colorado defenseman Ray Bourque, referring to an ongoing story line during the finals, "but Corkum doesn't have one, either."

"Those are the most important guys on the hockey team," said Brodeur, referring to the pair who scored for him. "You expect your big guys to come in and score, but they did the job."

Robinson looked like a genius for putting Corkum, an excellent defensive forward, in the lineup. Colorado had six power-play chances but scored only on its first try. From that point on New Jersey put the Avalanche down.

Losing the game was Colorado goalie Patrick Roy, who saw his nine-game winning streak in the Stanley Cup finals come to an end.

Colorado resumed its shelling of New Jersey as the game started, running roughshod over the Devils and doing pretty much what it desired. With the game a few seconds short of six minutes old, the Avalanche held a 6-1 shooting advantage.

The sixth shot was by Joe Sakic, and it produced his 12th goal of the playoffs and third of the finals. It came at the end of a prolonged period of hammering at Brodeur. The Devils' goalie slipped out of the crease thinking he had the puck safely in his glove. Bad move. The puck had popped out, and by the time Sakic got to it, the goal judge was closer to the net than Brodeur.

The Devils' defensive skills slowly improved, and Colorado was held off for the next half-dozen minutes, only to be tested again at 12:28 when Patrik Elias took a slashing penalty. But this time it was Colorado that paid the price on one of those plays that can turn a game, maybe even a series.

Corkum, the well-traveled journeyman who was playing only because of Randy McKay's broken left hand, picked off a turnover in the neutral zone. He stormed in and wristed a shot through Roy's legs one second after Elias' penalty expired. The goal was the first of the series by New Jersey and ended the Devils' scoreless string at 90 minutes, 57 seconds.

Less than three minutes later New Jersey stormed into the lead. The Avalanche were trying to get the puck out from in front of Roy when it fell to the ice, right at the feet of Stevenson, a wing. Stevenson whacked it on the first bounce with a backhand, and it nicked the bottom edge of the crossbar before falling into the cage behind Roy.

When Corkum scored in the first, it killed one of the bigger story lines of the finals. Roy was working on the second-longest scoreless streak in Stanley Cup finals history at 213 minutes, 12 seconds entering last night's game. He needed 16 minutes to break the record of 229:22 held by Clint Benedict of the Montreal Maroons.

Roy came up 1:41 short. Corkum's even-strength goal snapped Roy's streak at 227:41. The scoreless streak that followed lasted less than three minutes.

Notes The 5-0 drubbing the Devils suffered in Game 1 was New Jersey's worst playoff loss since Pittsburgh hammered it 7-0 in 1993… . Bourque changes the laces in his skates before every game. That means he has gone through 3,642 individual laces since he joined the NHL 22 seasons ago… . New Jersey center John Madden was called for diving in the second period last night. The league has said that is something it wants to deal with more thoroughly next season… . The Avalanche trailed a total of 52 seconds in their five-game series for the Western Conference title against St. Louis.


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