Originally created 05/12/02

Sharks skate past Avalanche



DENVER -- Despite trailing the best closing team in the NHL, the San Jose Sharks didn't change a thing in the third period.

Mike Ricci and Teemu Selanne scored in a 3:05 span of the third period as San Jose rallied to beat Colorado 5-3 Saturday to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.

San Jose is seeking its first ever conference final.

"We didn't abandon our game plan in the third period," Selanne said. "We have been awesome in the third period the whole season. We knew we had a chance."

Colorado was 34-0-1 during the regular season when leading after two periods, but has twice lost leads against the Sharks. San Jose also scored three goals in the third period to beat the defending Stanley Cup champions 6-4 in Game 3.

"I think we sat on the lead in the third period," Colorado's Joe Sakic said. "We cannot be giving up a lead like that in the third period."

San Jose had lost six straight Game 5s before winning two this year. The Sharks closed out their first-round series against Phoenix with a 4-1 victory in Game 5.

Since 1995, the team that wins Game 5 has gone on to win the series 17 of 21 times. Game 6 of the best-of-7 series is Monday night in San Jose.

"We've got to play with a lot of will and desire in the next game," Colorado's Adam Foote said. "We've made it tough on ourselves. We have our backs against the wall."

Colorado led 3-2 after the two teams combined for five goals in a 5:58 span of the second period, but Ricci tied it 5:59 into the third with his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Colorado goalie Patrick Roy stopped a redirected shot by Scott Thornton, but the puck bounced right to Ricci, who punched in the rebound from just outside the crease.

Selanne made it 4-3 at 9:04, beating Roy stickside from the top of the right circle. It was Selanne's fifth goal of the series after he went five games without one against Phoenix.

Owen Nolan added an empty-net goal with 2.5 seconds left.

"We have been through a lot. Third periods don't bug us," Ricci said.

After a slow start to the second period, the two teams went on a scoring flurry.

San Jose's Marco Sturm started it with 7:53 left on a one-timer from the left post.

Peter Forsberg tied it 1:33 later, whirling around in the slot to beat Evgeni Nabokov between the pads on a delayed penalty. It was his fourth goal of the series and extended his points streak to six games.

Mike Keane put Colorado up 2-1 with 5:03 left after a redirected shot by Eric Messier bounced off his skate just inside the post.

Niklas Sundstrom tied it 41 seconds later by flipping the puck over a prone Roy, who had dived to swipe a loose puck just before it trickled over the goal line.

It was Sundstrom's first playoff goal since May 11, 1996, against Pittsburgh as a member of the New York Rangers.

Sakic capped the scoring binge with his fourth goal of the series, banging a shot off the right post with 1:55 left after Greg de Vries one-touched a pass from Forsberg to the right circle.

Sakic has nine points in the series and a five-game points streak.

"It was unbelievable," Selanne said. "It was so tight until our first goal and then it was back and forth. The game just opened up."

Nabokov allowed three or more goals for the fifth straight game, but was solid early and staved off a Colorado flurry late.

He turned away Forsberg on a backhand attempt in the first minute, then made a glove save after Milan Hejduk shook Vincent Damphousse with some nifty stickhandling.

Nabokov also stopped Sakic on a breakaway for the second time in three games, stacking his pads after the Sharks got caught pinching in on a Colorado power play.

The Avalanche kept the puck in San Jose's zone for most of the final four minutes, but couldn't get it past Nabokov.

"It was such a change for me to go through all the momentum changes," Nabokov said. "I was fortunate we got all of those goals."

Roy, who led the NHL with a career-best 1.94 goals-against average during the regular season, allowed three or more goals for the seventh time in the playoffs. The Sharks have scored 17 goals against him in the series.

Notes: Forsberg leads all playoff scorers with 17 points. ... San Jose won for just the fourth time in its last 19 day playoff games since 1999. ... Colorado is 10-5 in Game 5s at home since 1996. ... San Jose improved to 5-0 in the playoffs when scoring first. ... Selanne's goal was his first game-winner of the playoffs and fourth of his career.