Originally created 05/27/01

Avalanche shut out Devils



DENVER -- Score one for the Colorado Avalanche's flash and dash over the New Jersey Devils' crash and bash.

Joe Sakic had two goals and the Avalanche, playing at a speed and with a flourish the confused Devils couldn't match against playoff-tested goalie Patrick Roy, blew out New Jersey 5-0 Saturday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

The defending champion Devils, favored going into the series, have two long days before Game 2 Tuesday night to figure out what went so wrong against the team they outscored 12-4 in a pair of regular-season routs that Roy didn't finish.

For one night, Colorado's Western Conference offense had it all over the Devils, who pushed around Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals but couldn't catch the Avalanche to wear them down with the physical toughness they relied on in the first three rounds.

"We are a team that's aggressive, sometimes overly aggressive, and when we get the puck moving and we're skating, we are at our very best," Rob Blake said.

Roy, who went more than 11 minutes of a fast-break first period without seeing a shot but was there to make the big saves when needed, turned aside 25 shots for his 18th career playoff shutout, extending his own NHL record.

The Avalanche also kept their perfect record in Stanley Cup finals games -- they swept Florida in 1996 -- as the 35-year-old Roy won his ninth consecutive game in the finals, one short of Ken Dryden's record 10 for Montreal from 1976-78.

Sakic has a league-high 11 playoff goals and also assisted on Blake's power-play goal in the third period as the Avalanche, 9-0 when they get the first goal, scored first and kept on scoring against what usually is the most disciplined, mistake-free team in the league.

"Joe's on fire," Chris Drury said. "When he's playing great like that, we have to give him the puck whenever we can."

The Devils' frustration showed not just on the statistics sheet, as their A-Line of Patrik Elias, Jason Arnott and Petr Sykora went scoreless after combining previously for 22 playoff goals, but in the penalty box as they drew seven penalties in the third period, most following post-play shoving and pushing matches.

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who grew up with a Roy picture on his bedroom wall, lost for the first time in six Stanley Cup finals road games and didn't look going doing so against the NHL's regular-season champions. The Avalanche is trying to become the second team in three years to win the Stanley Cup and the regular season Presidents' Trophy in the same season, joining Dallas in 1999.

Sakic, the Conn Smythe trophy winner as the playoffs MVP in 1996, beat Brodeur 11:07 into the first period with a wrist shot from the right circle that scooted between Brodeur's pads and signaled what kind of night it would be for the Devils, who had won six of their last seven playoff games. It didn't help that forward Randy McKay, one of the Devils' emotional leaders, left the game with a fractured left hand sustained in a neutral zone collision with Ray Bourque.

The goal almost seemed inevitable as the Avalanche, apparently pumped up by a loud, pom-pon waving crowd, threw 13 of the game's first 17 shots on Brodeur, who had to stop several breakaways in the opening minutes to keep the game from quickly becoming a rout.

That would have to wait for another period.

New Jersey had a chance to make a game of it, but couldn't score despite getting three of the game's first four power plays, and that allowed the Avalanche to keep the pressure on and the pace at their preferred speed.

"There are no excuses," Arnott said. "They are playing extremely well, and they are very aggressive. We were struggling a little bit, gripping our sticks a little too hard."

Drury got the important second goal that really took New Jersey out of its game, taking rookie Dan Hinote's pass from along the boards and chipping it past Brodeur for his ninth of the playoffs. Hinote is the injured Peter Forsberg's replacement on Colorado's second line.

It truly was an All-American goal for the Avalanche, as Drury once pitched Trumbull, Conn., to one of the biggest upsets in Little League World Series history and Hinote is a former West Point cadet.

Sakic, whose first goal was his 12th game-winner in the playoffs and his second in as many games, made it 3-0 as the teams skated 4-on-4 at 15:06 of the second. He put a move on Scott Stevens in the right circle, then skated across the slot to throw a wrister by Brodeur as the goalie was screened by his own teammate, Petr Sykora, and Alex Tanguay.

Blake, obtained from Los Angeles just before the trading deadline, was set up by Sakic for his fifth of the playoffs on a power play at 5:36 of the third, and Steven Reinprecht scored late in the game.

[bf]Notes:[nf] Roy is 15-6 in Stanley Cup finals games. He has won three of the four finals in which he has played. ... New Jersey had been 8-2-2 against Colorado the last six years and was 18-3-1 against the Western Conference this season. ... New Jersey was 3-0 on the road against Dallas in last year's finals.