Avalanche knock off Sharks in OT to take 2-0 series lead
Posted: Tuesday May 04, 1999 01:08 PM
Hejduk scored 7:53 into overtime Monday night as the Avalanche beat the San Jose Sharks 2-1. With the win, Colorado took a 2-0 series lead to Denver for the next three games.
"I don't think I'm a hero," the young Czech said. "I'm just a normal hockey player."
Hejduk, who had 14 goals and 34 assists in the regular season, took a pass from Colorado captain Joe Sakic and fought off Sharks left wing Jeff Friesen in front of the crease to beat goalie Mike Vernon.
"It was a great pass from Joe," he said. "I was just in front of the net."
Afterward, the entire team engulfed the smiling rookie right wing along the boards, while Vernon hit the goalpost angrily with his stick.
"I tried to deflect the puck that Sakic shot at me, and I did and it went beck to Hejduk," he said. "I tried to block it, but it came back and he just whacked it."
The Avalanche tied the game late in the third period on Adam Foote's goal, which slipped underneath Vernon as he fell to the ice amid a tangle of players in front of the net.
Vincent Damphousse, traded to the Sharks from Montreal on March 23, sent the puck from the left point past Colorado goalie Patrick Roy with 3:02 gone in the third period to give San Jose the 1-0 lead.
Roy, who stopped 23 shots, faced 43 San Jose shots in Saturday's series opener, which the Avalanche won 3-1. He now has 101 playoff victories, an on-going NHL record.
Vernon, who faced 16 Colorado shots in the third period alone, had 35 saves. He had been so tough in goal until Foote's shot that the loud sellout crowd at the San Jose Arena regularly rewarded him with a chant of "Ver-non! Ver-non!"
"It's really tough to win when the other team gets so many chances. One or two are bound to go in," Damphousse said. "I think we should have crashed Roy more than we did; he was still making key saves."
There had been a question whether Sharks coach Darryl Sutter might start backup Steve Shields, who was hot down the stretch in the regular season. But Vernon, 0-5-1 in his past six starts, has more playoff experience, with Stanley Cup titles with both Calgary and Detroit.
The Sharks had a great chance midway through the second period when Marco Sturm caught Roy out of goal. Sturm had a seemingly wide-open shot from in front of the crease, but Roy dived toward the goal and miraculously stopped the puck with his stick.
"I was desperate out there. I did everything I could to get to it," Roy said. "Fortunately for us, I got it."
The Avalanche were without defenseman Alexei Gusarov, who sprained his left knee in a collision with teammate Theoren Fleury in Game 1. Gusarov is out indefinitely, and will probably miss the rest of the series.
The series was delayed because of the mass killings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., outside of Denver. The first two games had been scheduled for last Wednesday and Thursday nights in Denver. In honor of those slain, the series did not get under way until Saturday in San Jose.
Also Monday, it was announced the Avalanche and Denver Nuggets are being sold by Ascent Entertainment Group Inc., to a partnership controlled by Bill Laurie and his wife, Wal-Mart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie for $400 million. The sale is pending approval by the NHL, the NBA and the city and county of Denver.
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