EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Ray Bourque put himself closer to the Stanley Cup than he has ever been.
Bourque scored the go-ahead goal on the power play 31 seconds into the third period as the Colorado Avalanche took a two games to one lead in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
Making perhaps his last bid for an elusive championship, the 40-year-old Bourque blasted a slap shot from the top of the slot past goaltender Martin Brodeur's glove to break a 1-1 tie. His fourth playoff goal came with 31 seconds left on Jason Arnott's boarding penalty.
"It has been awhile," Bourque said. "I think it has been since 1990 and I mentioned that to a couple of guys, and it turned out I got one tonight. ... For me, yeah, I could say it was probably the biggest goal I have scored."
Just under six minutes later, Chris Drury's outlet pass sprung the Avalanche on a 3-on-2 that was capped by rookie Dan Hinote's second playoff goal.
The rest was up to Patrick Roy, who stopped the last 20 shots he faced, finished with 21 saves and backstopped Colorado to its first win in New Jersey since the franchise moved from Quebec following the 1995 season.
"It's a unit out there, it is not only Patrick," Bourque said. "The forwards are doing a great job. It is stuff that we work on all year long and we have done pretty well."
More importantly, the Avalanche regained the home-ice advantage they lost in Game Two.
Game Four is Saturday night in New Jersey, where the Devils are just 6-5 in the playoffs. Late in the third period, the frustrated sellout crowd began chanting, "Shoot the puck."
"All the booing on the power play and when we don't get a shot to the net, it doesn't really affect us," Devils center John Madden said. "It's been going on all year, so it doesn't really bother us."
The defending champions finally got a goal from their vaunted "A" line but could get nothing else past Roy, who has given up just three goals in the series and has won 10 of his last 11 Stanley Cup Finals games.
"There is always a problem when you don't come to work and you don't stick to the game plan," Devils coach Larry Robinson said. "You are not going to win a lot of games when you only have eight or nine guys playing. We didn't have enough guys competing tonight."
Arnott rammed defenseman Adam Foote into the boards in the final minute of the second period, drawing a penalty that carried into the third. Joe Sakic lost a faceoff in the Devils' zone, but Madden kicked the puck back to the right point.
"It came back and he had a good pick on me, locked me up," said Madden. "He was holding onto my stick. By the time I got out there, Ray Bourque had a clear shot."
Bourque crept to the top of the slot and beat Brodeur for his 41st career playoff goal and fourth game-winner. In two previous trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, Bourque's Boston Bruins did not win more than one game.
"I know we are two games away and we are one step closer, but we've got a lot of work left," said Bourque, who became the oldest player to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Finals. "We've got to go out and go after it like we did tonight. And if we do that, I think we are giving ourselves a chance."
"I saw it," Brodeur said. "It took me a while to see him because I didn't know where he was. He kept moving with the crowd. When he got out of the crowd, he was stepping into the slap shot. He made a good shot, right at my shoulder. I tried to use my glove instead of my shoulder and it hit my glove and went in."
Colorado made it 3-1 at the 6:28 mark as rookie Ville Nieminen took Drury's pass, moved down the right side and waited for a defenseman to slide through the slot before throwing the puck to Hinote for the easy stuff.
Hinote was 13 years old when Bourque scored his last Stanley Cup Finals goal in 1990.
"(That) was a while ago. I wasn't too worried about the NHL at that point," Hinote said. "But tonight I give all the credit to my linemates. It was a great, great passing play by them. ... All I had to do was put it in. So I had the easy part."
Most of the second period featured trench warfare, solid penalty-killing and handful of key saves by Brodeur.
Colorado had three of the period's four power plays and outshot New Jersey, 11-3. After defenseman Sean O'Donnell took his second penalty of the period with 11:35 left, Brodeur got his left shoulder on Alex Tanguay's shot from the inside edge of the left faceoff circle and made two more saves before the power play ended.
The period ended eventfully. Moments after Arnott's penalty, the Devils nearly took the lead while shorthanded as Roy came way out of his net but lost a battle for the puck with Elias along the right boards. Roy appeared to get enough of Elias' wrist shot, which struck the base of the right goalpost with 18.5 seconds left before intermission.
"I can tell you that (skipping) a couple of heartbeats is an understatement," Avalanche coach Bob Hartley said. "But, hey, Patrick is so good around the net. They read his play. That could have been the turning point of the game, but we came right back at the start of the third and we scored the winning goal. Talk about a turn of events, that was huge."
"The puck was loose and I wanted to help the guys, but I was in a race with Elias and he was a bit ahead of me," Roy explained. "I tried to just push it behind him ... but it is a play I shouldn't have tried."
The Avalanche had to feel fortunate after escaping the first period in a 1-1 tie. They took four penalties and for the second straight game killed a two-man advantage.
That was after the Devils got their first power-play goal of the series, ending an 0-for-9 drought. Just 89 seconds into the game, Foote was penalized for tripping Petr Sykora.
With 13 seconds left on the ensuing power play, Bobby Holik delivered a cross-ice pass to Arnott, who ripped a one-timer from the top of the left circle between Roy's pads.
It was the first goal of the series for the "A" line of Arnott, Elias and Sykora, which combined for 16 goals and 18 assists in the eight games leading up to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Roy helped kill the Devils' next power play, stopping shots by Sykora, Elias and Arnott during a flurry.
After going more than eight minutes without a shot, Colorado tied it with 9:22 to go in the period on Martin Skoula's first goal in 36 career playoff games. Shjon Podein's centering pass from behind the net came all the way out to the top of the slot, where Skoula flicked a wrist shot that found its way through traffic and over Brodeur's left shoulder.
"I didn't really see it go in because there were so many people in front. Then I was just happy it went in," Skoula said. "It's always a big goal to tie a game. I was just happy I got it through."
New Jersey nearly regained the lead moments later, but Roy extended his left pad and stopped a partial breakaway by Elias, who got free from Bourque on a 2-on-2.
"We came out flying, like gangbusters, probably shold have been up two, three goals," Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko said. "Roy made a couple of good saves. He made a huge toe save on Patrik and another through a screen that he didn't see. That's the difference in games. You go up 2-0 and I guarantee you for all intents and purposes, it's over."
Colorado's first power play was cut short after Tanguay hooked defenseman Scott Stevens behind the Devils' net. With 34 seconds left on Tanguay's penalty, Nieminen followed him to the box for boarding Scott Niedermayer.
But New Jersey failed to get a shot during the 5-on-3 and did not threaten after Tanguay returned. The Devils are 1-for-15 on the power play in the series.
"That just changed the whole momentum of the game," Robinson said of the two-man advantage. "It gave them life and we just didn't respond very well after that."