2001 Stanley Cup Finals

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NHL Hockey Scoreboard: Recap
Recap | Box Score | Today's Scoreboard
Colorado 4, Vancouver 3
Posted: Tuesday April 17, 2001 03:37 AM
Colorado Avalanche
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Vancouver Canucks
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Ticker) -- Shortly after Todd Bertuzzi drove Eric Messier's face into the ice, Peter Forsberg drove a stake into the hearts of the Vancouver Canucks.

With the teams skating four aside, Forsberg used his superior skill to beat a pair of defenders and goaltender Bob Essensa 2:50 into overtime, giving the Colorado Avalanche a 4-3 victory.

He also gave the top-seeded Avalanche a three games to none lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series. No team has rallied from such a deficit since the 1975 New York Islanders.

"Tonight was a tough one," Bertuzzi said. "The fans were in it. I thought we played extremely well, but there were unfortunate incidents throughout the game."

Forsberg's first goal in 14 games came 43 seconds after Bertuzzi fell on Messier and drove his face into the ice near Colorado's net. The hit left the Avalanche defenseman bloodied and negated a Vancouver power play.

While the hit was blatant, Bertuzzi and Canucks coach Marc Crawford, who guided Colorado to a Stanley Cup in 1996, disagreed with the call.

"I have a lot of questions on officiating right now," Bertuzzi said. "But I'm not going to use it as an excuse. But you gotta get serious. It's playoff hockey out there."

"I don't think we got a fair shake," said Crawford, who argued that star defenseman Rob Blake picked up the Avalanche penalty, not Steven Reinprecht. "At the end, I thought the emotional control the referees showed was absolutely horrendous."

Forsberg picked up a turnover in the neutral zone, skated around Brendan Morrison and Murray Baron in the right faceoff circle and avoided Essensa's pokecheck before scoring on a snap shot from the left side.

"I was by myself," Forsberg said. "The forward was coming from behind and I thought the defense got mixed up, who was going to take me, and I just got in on Essensa. He went down and I went upstairs."

With the goal, the Avalanche moved within a victory of their first series sweep since the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals and kept the Canucks winless in the playoffs since a 4-3 triumph over Colorado in 1996.

The win seemed in doubt much of the night for the Avalanche, who continued to struggle against the conference's lowest seed but erased three deficits in a raucous environment.

"We've been lucky to get away with a win in each of the three games in this series," said Forsberg, whose team has won three straight one-goal games. "Now we've got to focus on the next game. It's going to be in even tougher."

Vancouver hosts Game Four on Wednesday.

Trent Klatt scored his second playoff goal on the power play 6:13 into the game to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead, but Hart Trophy favprote Joe Sakic tied it with 2:42 left in the first period.

Rookie Daniel Sedin put Vancouver back on top 97 seconds into the second when he jammed a loose puck under goalie Patrick Roy, but Chris Drury answered seven minutes later.

Milan Hejduk set up the equalizer, dashing down the left side and slipping a backhanded pass to Drury in front as he skated behind the net. Drury was open in the low slot and one-timed a backhander into a half-empty net.

It was the third goal of the series for Drury, whose third-period goal in Game One was the game-winner.

The Avalanche seemed snake-bitten over the first two periods. They held a 28-18 advantage in shots, but Sakic hit three goalposts.

Meanwhile, the Canucks were getting an outstanding performance from Essensa, who forced chants of "Bob-by, Bob-by" with several sharp saves. He finished with 29.

The white towel-waving crowd of 18,422, which was witnessing Vancouver's first home playoff game in five years, really got into it at 5:32 of the third period when Bertuzzi scored for a 3-2 lead.

Sedin skated across Colorado's blue line on the left side and peeled off a defender near the boards before whipping a no-look backhanded pass to a streaking Bertuzzi, who backhanded the puck off Roy's right arm and into the net.

"I thought they played really well tonight," Forsberg said. "I think we were really lucky with this one."

With the next several minutes being played at a feverish pace, the Avalanche went on a power play with 11:28 left in regulation after Drake Berehowsky was penalized for interference.

The Canucks killed the first 80 seconds of the power play, sending Colorado's top power-play unit to the bench. But Adam Foote's slap shot deflected off Canucks center Denis Pederson and hit the top right corner of the net to tie it.

That quieted a crowd that watched Foote taunt the Avalanche bench with a double biceps pose. He and Bertuzzi continued their series-long verbal battle before Foote picked up a penalty 14 seconds after the goal.

But Roy stopped Klatt's point-blank shot late in the power play and the Canucks failed to convert. They finished 1-for-5 with the man advantage.

"Patrick Roy was exeptional tonight," Forsberg said of the future Hall of Famer, who made 20 saves. "He kept us in the game and we were lucky that he played as well as he did."

The Avalanche ended up with the last power play of regulation when Mattias Ohlund pulled down Forsberg on a move to the net with 3:04 to play.

After fans littered the ice with debris, the Canucks killed the power play. Essensa made a big pad save on a heavy slap shot by Blake with 2:32 to play.

The game went to overtime and Vancouver appeared to be going on a power play when Reinprecht skated into Sedin, who was trying to accept a pass at the top of the right circle.

Crawford, who waited for referees Mick McGeough and Mark Faucette outside their locker room after the game, thought Blake made the hit.

"There's a big difference between the size of Rob Blake (6-4) and the size of Steven Reinprecht (6-1)," he said. "We talked to (the officials), but no talking back to them because they know it all. They're above it all, and that's a tough pill to swallow."

After Reinprecht's penalty forced a whistle, the 6-3, 225-pound Bertuzzi knocked down Messier before driving the bridge of his nose into the ice, negating the power play.

"It's a pileup," Bertuzzi said. "He was looking for something to even it up."

Foote disagreed.

"When you jump on a guy and you make his head bleed," he said, "that's a penalty."


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