Roy, Forsberg Lift Surging Avs
DENVER (AP) _ They vanquished the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to win four in a row. Now, they face the team with the best regular-season record in the NHL.
Nobody said it was going to be easy for the Colorado Avalanche, who enjoyed a well-deserved day off Wednesday after eliminating the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night but who must quickly turn their focus to the Dallas Stars.
The Western Conference finals between Colorado and Dallas begin Saturday night in Dallas.
Peter Forsberg scored two goals as the Avalanche beat Detroit 5-2 on Tuesday night to wrap up the conference semifinal series in six games.
But while Forsberg clearly justified his new $30 million contract with his all-around play in the last four games, it was goaltender Patrick Roy who was the catalyst for Colorado.
Roy, whose 12th career playoff shutout led Colorado to a 3-0 victory in Game 5 in Denver on Sunday, made 35 saves Tuesday night, many of them brilliant when the game was close.
``It was an awesome feeling, coming back from 0-2,″ Forsberg said. ``Everybody’s been stepping up, from the last guy to the first guy. And Patrick’s been great in net.″
Avs coach Bob Hartley agreed.
``Patrick is Patrick,″ Hartley said. ``He was outstanding. I’m not surprised with the way he played. I grew up around Montreal and I saw him win with the Canadiens. I saw him win a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche. He’s rock solid.″
After Colorado lost the first two games of the series at home and appeared on the verge of being swept, Roy stopped 146 of 153 shots as Colorado won four in a row.
``To win four straight against Detroit _ I didn’t think it was possible, to be honest,″ Roy said. ``But we had no choice. We put ourselves in a really bad position, losing those two games in Colorado.
``It was a great comeback for us, being down 2-0. We took it one game at a time and played some great hockey. We won three games in Detroit, and it’s not every team that can do that.″
Blessed with talented skaters and puck-handlers, the Avalanche faltered early in the series with Detroit when they tried to get fancy, making too many passes or attempting the highlight-video shot.
``We played simple hockey,″ Roy said. ``That’s how we won this series. It was a good series, and great for us to beat that team. They were the Stanley Cup champions, and we beat them. It feels good, but now we’ve got another series against another very tough team.″
After the game, Hartley predicted his team would wake up Wednesday morning ``and the Red Wings are going to be out of our system. We’re facing a great hockey club in the Dallas Stars. They are the regular-season champions and they’re going to be a great challenge for us. The Red Wings were on the road to the ultimate goal. We knew that it would be us or the Wings that would dance, and I’m very proud of our players.″
Despite the bad blood that has defined Colorado-Detroit meetings since 1996, the Red Wings were gracious in defeat.
``If you lose four straight like we did, you can’t say the other team was lucky,″ Detroit coach Scotty Bowman said.
``You can look at it as we underachieved,″ Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman said. ``Or you can look at it as we got beat by a great team. I choose to look at it as Colorado played fantastic.
``They made great adjustments from the first two games to the last four. Their top players played very well at both ends of the rink. Joe Sakic was excellent on penalty killing, on faceoffs, and he did all the little things well.
``When they got (Valeri) Kamensky back (for Game 3), it enabled (Adam) Deadmarsh to go back to that line with (Chris) Drury and (Shjon) Podein. They got production from all four lines, their defense is good and their goaltender was very solid. They did all the things through the last four games that are necessary not just to beat good teams, but to win the Stanley Cup.″
While only 2-4 at home during the postseason so far this year, the Avs can take comfort in the fact they’ve been an amazing 6-0 on the road.
Despite the Stars’ 51-19-12 regular-season record, Colorado compiled a 2-1-1 record against them. Dallas defeated St. Louis in six games to advance to the next round.