How the West was won
Fleury shines as Avs bury Sharks 6-2, take 3-2 series lead
Posted: Tuesday May 04, 1999 12:33 PM
DENVER (AP) -- Theo Fleury had been just another skater during the Colorado Avalanche's first four playoff games. Mysteriously, one of hockey's most dangerous scorers wasn't living up to his reputation.
That changed just in time for the Avalanche on Saturday night as Fleury scored twice and added an assist to lead Colorado to a crucial 6-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
The win gave Colorado a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference playoff series. Game 6 is Monday night in San Jose.
"You maybe lose a little bit of confidence, and when you shoot, you don't think it's going to go in," said Fleury, whose first goal sent him into a fist-pumping celebration. "When you're on a roll, you know they're going to go in. I got the first one, and then they just seemed to find the holes on the goalies."
Claude Lemieux added a goal and three assists and Peter Forsberg scored short-handed to ignite Colorado, which bounced back from an embarrassing 7-3 loss and ended a four-game home losing streak in the playoffs.
"Last night we were so embarrassed, we didn't say a word to each other," defenseman Adam Foote said. "We came out tonight with all this positive energy, and we made it work for us."
The Sharks accomplished what they wanted in Denver -- forcing the series back to California -- but gave themselves little chance Saturday, allowing a short-handed goal, two power-play goals and committing costly turnovers.
"We weren't happy with our performance, but we came in and won two out of three and kept the series alive," San Jose forward Jeff Friesen said. "We take the series back to the Shark Tank and will go back to work."
Shields, 9-0-2 in his last 11 regular-season starts, finished with 29 saves.
"It's a bloody tough series. It's hardest on the older guys," Sutter said. "That was evident today, and it was a big part in the thinking on Vernon. He's 36 years old. This was a game he would be better off not playing."
Even Vernon would have been hard-pressed to stop at least two Colorado goals, and Shields had no control over Patrick Roy's stellar play at the other end.
"If somebody is going to get lit up I would rather it be me than the guy that has been playing every night," Shields said. "I wanted to play. I wanted to make more of a difference in the game."
Roy, who was pulled after giving up six goals 24 hours earlier, stopped 31 shots as he extended his record for playoff victories to 102. He lost his shutout on Patrick Marleau's power-play goal 5:34 into the third period and gave up another score on a 5-on-3 in the closing minutes.
"I could not be happy about my game [Friday], there's no doubt about it," Roy said. "It's a team game, and I am hoping everybody was mad with their performance."
Marleau's goal pulled San Jose to 5-1, but Fleury answered with his second goal of the game less than four minutes later to thwart any chance of a comeback.
"We know that we let a couple games slip by," Fleury said. "When you have people who have been in do-or-die situations throughout their career, you don't expect guys to be nervous and squeezing the stick. You expect those guys to be your best players and the guys that come out on fire."
The second period started inauspiciously for the Avalanche as they blew a two-minute, 5-on-3 advantage for the second straight night. Despite the missed opportunity, Colorado got a spark when Fleury scored his first goal of the series to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead at 11:15.
Lemieux beat Shields on a slap shot from the right circle 49 seconds later, and Adam Deadmarsh capped the second-period flurry when he deflected in Aaron Miller's long slap shot just before the horn sounded.
"Darryl had a list of about five things that he said would make a difference in the series," Shields said. "We didn't do any of them in this game and that was the difference."
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