Back to his old self
Roy frustrates Kings, silences doubters
DENVER (AP) -- One shaky game in goal, and critics were dismissing Patrick Roy as past his Stanley Cup prime.
Colorado Avalanche coach Bob Hartley knew better.
After allowing four goals in Colorado's series opener against the Los Angeles Kings, Roy has been stellar as the Avalanche move toward their third straight trip to the Western Conference finals.
Roy, who holds the NHL records for regular-season and playoff victories, has shut out the Kings twice in three games and can close out Los Angeles in Game 5 on Friday night. Colorado leads the best-of-seven series 3-1.
"You look at the sparks that come out of those eyes when he's on his game, it's scary," Hartley said Thursday. "He's in a zone. Any athlete is human. Mark McGwire doesn't always hit a home run. Roger Clemens doesn't always throw a strike. Patrick Roy, unfortunately, doesn't always make a save, but when he's in his zone, you need a bullet to go by him."
While the Avalanche are poised to make another trip to the finals, Los Angeles coach Andy Murray is clinging to the belief his team is on the brink of success, as well.
After the Kings' third straight loss to Colorado, Murray projected confidence as the series headed east.
"I know down 3-1, some people are going to think we're toast," Murray said. "But I believe that if we win in Denver, we'll win the series because we'll win Game 6 back here."
The Kings won four straight against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs, but face a different challenge against Colorado.
Detroit was a bruised team throughout the Los Angeles series, and the Red Wings lost three of the final four games on the road.
"We have overcome adversity in the past and I think the guys think it can be done," Kings goalie Felix Potvin said. "We're not going to give up. It can be done."
The Kings will have to make some adjustments against Roy if they want to get the series back to Los Angeles.
Roy is 7-1 with a 1.93 goals-against average as he pursues his fourth Stanley Cup. His 21-save shutout Wednesday night was his second in three games and extended his NHL playoff record to 17.
"He's getting better as the playoffs go on," Colorado forward Alex Tanguay said.
The Avalanche offense also continues to produce, averaging 3.5 goals. Colorado won its first two games at the Staples Center despite playing without leading scorer Joe Sakic.
He injured his right shoulder five minutes into Game 3 and decided against a premature return. Colorado's comfortable series edge gives Hartley flexibility with his high-scoring captain.
"He wanted to play [Wednesday]. He was ready to go," Hartley said. "We kind of used common sense because we know how valuable Joe is to this hockey club."
Sakic received treatment Thursday, but Colorado will wait until after the morning skate to see if he will play in Game 5.
Without him, the Avalanche still have All-Stars in Roy, defensemen Ray Bourque and Rob Blake, and forwards Peter Forsberg and Milan Hejduk, who each have eight-game point streaks. Chris Drury led the NHL with six playoff goals after Wednesday's games.
Colorado's firepower and defensive talent mean little to Murray.
"I told our players that anybody who doesn't want to get on the plane to Denver has got the out right now," he said. "We'll see who's on the plane. We'll get a pretty good read of our team Friday."