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'We don't want to go back'

Drury, Avs focused on finishing off Wings

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Posted: Thursday May 04, 2000 09:05 PM

  Chris Drury Chris Drury and the Avs are on the verge of eliminating the Red Wings from the playoffs for the second straight year. AP

DENVER (AP) -- Star of the Little League World Series, Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey's best player, Rookie of the Year in the NHL, clutch performer for the Colorado Avalanche ... Chris Drury is fulfilling every boyhood fantasy.

Scoring the winning goal just like he imagined it while playing with his brothers on a frozen pond near his Connecticut home, Drury gave the Avalanche a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with the Detroit Red Wings.

Drury's goal at 10:21 of overtime lifted Colorado to a 3-2 victory at Detroit on Wednesday night, and the Avalanche can clinch the series in Game 5 at home Friday night. Colorado also eliminated Detroit in the second round of the playoffs last year.

Asked on Thursday if there was any danger his team might ease up with its two-game advantage, Colorado coach Bob Hartley scoffed.

"Trust me, our focus is on the next game," he said. "We have lots of great leaders on this team, and our rivalry against the Red Wings will not allow us to do that. I have full trust that our players' focus and commitment is on Game 5."

Drury agreed, saying his team must approach Game 5 as if it were Game 7.

"We don't want to go back to Detroit [for Game 6]," he said. "We want to finish them off."

Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman tried to stay optimistic.

"We think we should have won Game 4," Bowman said Thursday. "We played well enough to win. I've seen momentum swing quickly, so we have to keep that in perspective. For me, the Wednesday loss doesn't change much about the game on Friday. We would have had to win one game in Denver anyway. Now we have to win two."

Detroit defenseman Larry Murphy said it is "obvious we are at a point where we can't afford to lose again. At the same time, you can't win three games in one night. We have to approach Friday and Friday only."

Avalanche rookie defenseman Martin Skoula, who played nearly 26 minutes Wednesday night in helping to compensate for the absence of veteran Ray Bourque (knee), said his team "stole one from them," and the statistics bore him out.

Detroit outshot Colorado 32-21, 7-5 in overtime, but goalie Patrick Roy made several big stops, including a blast by Steve Duchesne and rebound chance by Slava Kozlov in overtime. The Avs trailed 2-1 before Dave Andreychuk tied it at 15:33 of the third period.

"You can't replace Ray Bourque or try to cover what he does out there," Drury said. "But to dig ourselves out and get a win in overtime in their building in a big game, we've got to be happy."

Hartley said Bourque, injured in Game 3, is "day-to-day" but won't play Friday night.

Drury admitted his game-winner, on a pass from Peter Forsberg on a 2-on-1, was "pretty exciting. It was like a dream come true to score a goal like that." But the self-effacing second-year pro also deflected praise.

"Skoula was banging away in there, and [Adam] Deadmarsh got the puck out of the zone," Drury said. "I was kind of cheating a little bit, hoping he'd get it out. If he didn't, I might have been in a little bit of trouble.

"He's Peter Forsberg, and he's the guy I want with the puck on a 2-on-1 in any game, let alone a playoff game in overtime. I knew he'd make the right play. Whether he felt he could shoot it or pass it, I was going to let him decide. I just drove the net, and Peter made an unbelievable pass. It went to my backhand, and I slid it in."

Hartley said Forsberg "made a great play, and Chris always seems to be in the right place at the right time."

Drury currently leads Colorado in scoring in the playoffs with 10 points (three goals, seven assists).

Last Saturday, Hartley was asked to assess the play of Drury, who tied an NHL rookie record by scoring four game-winning goals in the playoffs last year and who ranked third on the Avalanche in scoring (67 points) this season.

"Chris is skating well and his confidence is growing game by game," Hartley said. "I think he's going to get way better. The sky is the limit for him. We are far from seeing what Chris Drury can be."

Wednesday night, we got a peek.


 
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