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Hockey

Road rules

With Game 1 in hand, Avalanche must rely on habit

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Posted: Tuesday May 04, 1999 01:09 PM

  Banking on the breaks: Peter Forsberg and the Avs nullify home ice advantage by cashing in a high percentage of power plays. AP

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Now that the playoff series between the Avalanche and the Sharks is under way, Colorado needs to continue to do what it does well -- win on the road.

It certainly worked in the series opener, which the Avalanche won 3-1 at the San Jose Arena, as Patrick Roy had 42 saves.

"Our success on the road is key to us winning the series," Roy said.

The Avalanche finished 23-14-4 away from home this season, the fourth-best road record in the league.

"We've been a good road team all year," captain Joe Sakic said after Saturday's victory. "So this isn't really surprising."

Sakic had two goals and an assist in the first game, while former Shark Sandis Ozolinsh added a goal and an assist. Jeff Friesen got the lone goal for the Sharks in the third period.

The series started Saturday in San Jose because of the mass killings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., last Tuesday. The first two games originally were scheduled in Denver on Wednesday and Thursday.

During the series, both teams will honor those slain. The Sharks have stickers on their helmets and the Avalanche have patches on their jerseys reading CHS, for Columbine High School.

The Sharks tried to keep up in the first game, but the Avalanche took advantage of their mistakes. Colorado, which finished fifth in the league on the power play during the season, was 2-for-8 Saturday night.

"Part of their trouble early on was they kept making mistakes in their zone," Sakic said. "We capitalized on them."

The Sharks will have to fix this if they hope to even the series Monday night. All the teams that won Game 1 in the opening round last season went on to claim the series.

"There can't be one little flaw," San Jose coach Darryl Sutter said. "You can't have a weak couple of minutes against them, you can't have a weak shift against them."

And there's getting by Roy, who claimed his 100th career playoff victory Saturday night, an ongoing NHL record. Roy is 16-3-1 against the Sharks.

"You can't beat him, but we've got to get more traffic in front of him, and do a good job of getting the rebounds," Friesen said. "We have to play more disciplined and play harder."

Mike Vernon stopped 28 Colorado shots and has 75 postseason victories himself, with Stanley Cup wins in Detroit and Calgary. However, his backup, Steve Shields, was hot down the stretch in the regular season while Vernon healed a groin injury.

Whether Vernon stays in goal on Monday night remained to be seen.

"You have to ask the coach. He makes all the decisions," Vernon said. "[But] I'm preparing myself like I'm playing."

 
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