EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The odds finally caught up with Patrick Roy.
Roy's misplay led to the tying goal and Petr Sykora scored the game-winner with 2:37 remaining as the New Jersey Devils evened the Stanley Cup Finals at two games apiece with a stirring 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Roy flirted with disaster twice in the first three games of the series by straying from his net and misplaying the puck. He did it again just over eight minutes into the third period, and it proved costly.
Roy failed to control the puck behind the net, losing possession to Jay Pandolfo, who threw it in front to Scott Gomez for the easy tap-in. It ended a 12-game goalless drought for Gomez, who had not scored in a month.
"I just kind of hung out in front and saw the play," Gomez said. "Patrick just missed it and (Pando) was right there. I don't even know if I yelled his name. He just threw it in front and knowing my luck right now, the shot didn't hit the post and it went in. It was a big goal."
"I was going to throw it on my forehand, but there was nobody there," Roy explained. "I tried to bring it back and throw it to Rob Blake, but I thought I had more time and they put pressure on me and the puck was jammed in my feet. I couldn't do anything with it. ... These are plays that I have to make and, of course, I wish I made a better decision. But I am working too hard out there to feel sorry for myself. It was a 2-2 game, and it was still there for us."
With Jason Arnott, the third member of the "A" line, hospitalized with a head injury, Sykora and Patrik Elias combined on the game-winner.
Elias took the puck off the left boards and threw it into the slot, where an unchecked Sykora one-timed a shot inside the left goalpost for his ninth playoff goal.
"The last goal was just because all lines are playing well," Sykora said. "I felt that we really wanted it tonight. I was the guy who scored the (game-winning) goal tonight, but I think it really came down to who really wanted the game more. And I thought we did tonight."
New Jersey held on, allowing only 12 shots while peppering Roy with 35. The 12 shots were a playoff-record low for Colorado.
"I think that overall we didn't give ourselves a chance to win the game," Avalanche coach Bob Hartley said. "You generate 12 shots in an entire game, it is pretty tough to win in the Stanley Cup Finals. I think it starts with our pressure up front and we made it tough on our defense and on Patrick."
The win ensured the series will return to the Meadowlands for a sixth game. Game Five is Monday night in Denver.
"It was a great team effort from the first minute to the last," Devils center Bobby Holik said. "Yeah, we were down most of the game, but we kept coming and coming. We never gave up, never changed the game plan, never changed the plays we talked about. It paid off down the road, at the end."
The defending Stanley Cup champions played all but three minutes, 41 seconds without Arnott, who was struck in the face by Ray Bourque's clearing attempt just 15 seconds into the game. Arnott appeared woozy on the bench, took five more shifts in the first period but was taken for precautionary X-rays.
His status for the rest of the series is unknown.
"We knew once Arny went down that we would be short a player on the bench, a big player for us. Everybody pulled up their socks and tried a little bit harder, and we got the job done," New Jersey center Bob Corkum said.
New Jersey dominated virtually throughout but did not lead until Sykora's goal.
For the first time in the series, the Devils scored a goal after the opening period. Defenseman Colin White was penalized for roughing 2:18 into the second, but New Jersey tied it at 1-1 with its third shorthanded goal of the playoffs.
Sykora carried down the left side and tried a cross-ice pass that deflected off Colorado's Alex Tanguay and caromed to Elias. His wrist shot tipped off defenseman Adam Foote's stick and slid under Roy's right pad.
Elias' eighth playoff goal was the first the Avalanche have surrendered after the first period in eight Stanley Cup Finals games. Against Florida in 1996 and through the first three games of this series, Colorado yielded seven goals -- all in the opening period.
The Devils continued to apply pressure and had several chances to grab the lead. White nearly had breakaway after he came out of the penalty box with 15 1/2 minutes to go in the second. Less than a minute later, Gomez tested Roy with a blast from the top of the left faceoff circle.
Avalanche defenseman Martin Skoula was penalized for taking down Gomez in front of the net midway through the period and Alexander Mogilny came within inches of breaking the tie. Goalless in 13 straight games, he rifled a shot from the top of the left circle that hit the crossbar and the right goalpost before bouncing harmlessly away.
"Patty was huge for us in the second period," said Avalanche left wing Chris Dingman. "If it wasn't for him we'd probably be (down) 5-1, 6-1. It was huge. It is our fault, too. ... We sat on the lead. We can't do that."
Less than 2 1/2 minutes later, White fell in the Colorado zone and Chris Drury moved in 1-on-1 against Sean O'Donnell. He used a couple of dekes to freeze the defenseman, then moved around him easily before cutting across the crease and curling a shot around goaltender Martin Brodeur's left pad and inside the right post.
"I don't know if I even thought about it," Drury said. "I knew I was coming in on a weird angle off my backhand and thought I could kind of suck him in and take it wide. I'm glad it worked."
It was Drury's 10th playoff goal and instantly took the life out of what had been a raucous sellout crowd. It also enabled the Avalanche to take the lead into the locker room, despite being outshot over the first 40 minutes, 19-8.
"We picked up right from the second period. The second period we played fantastic. Unfortunately, we were down 2-1," Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko said. "This team's got a lot of character. Guys didn't want to go down easy, we wanted to go down fighting."
The Devils could not have gotten off to a worse start. Already chastised by coach Larry Robinson for taking undisciplined penalties, they made two trips to the box before the game reached the five-minute mark.
Turner Stevenson took an interference penalty 96 seconds into the contest and Gomez interfered with Roy at 4:42. But New Jersey held Colorado without a shot on the two power plays.
"If we don't have (penalty-killing), we are not even in this series," Robinson said. "If I was to look back so far in this series and look at something that I am completely disappointed in, it is the number of stupid penalties that we keep taking."
In between, however, the Avalanche scored on their first shot of the game. After Stevenson blasted a one-timer over the net, Colorado counterattacked.
Blake carried out of his own zone and banked a pass off the left boards for Alex Tanguay. Tanguay returned the puck to Blake, who broke past fellow Norris Trophy winner Scott Stevens, deked Brodeur and flipped a wrist shot past the goaltender's left pad at 3:58.
It was the second goal of the series for Blake, who leads all defensemen with 19 points.
The Devils caught a break at 7:15 when Sykora hooked Stephane Yelle in the neutral zone and both players were penalized -- Sykora for hooking and Yelle for diving. Just 27 seconds later, Stevens took a hooking penalty to prevent Joe Sakic from breaking in alone. But Sakic returned the favor by taking down Pandolfo 44 seconds into the ensuing power play.
New Jersey avoided another bullet with just under 11 minutes left. With the teams skating 3-on-3, Brodeur stopped Drury on a 2-on-1 and Game Three hero Bourque sent the rebound wide of a half-open net.
As it did in Game One, New Jersey finished the period strongly, holding Colorado without a shot for the final 11:05. But the Devils never seriously tested Roy.