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Sharks oust Avalanche in West

Up 3-0 at one point in the series, San Jose puts Colorado away with a 3-1 victory in Game 6.

By Associated Press
Published May 5, 2004

DENVER - The Sharks finally finished off the Avalanche to reach their first final.

Evgeni Nabokov stopped 28 shots, and the Sharks scored three in the second to beat the Avalanche 3-1 on Tuesday in Game 6.

Vincent Damphousse, Marcel Goc and Jonathan Cheechoo had goals to help San Jose avoid becoming the third team to lose a best-of-seven series after winning the first three games.

The Sharks face the Flames in the Western Conference final.

The Avalanche won Games 4 and 5 in overtime to put pressure on the Sharks, but Colorado was sluggish early and couldn't beat Nabokov again after Milan Hejduk scored late in the second period.

San Jose got back to the puck-control style that was so effective in the first two games of the series. The Sharks comfortably set up in Colorado's zone for long stretches to create scoring chances.

The Avalanche helped, spending the early part of the game chipping pucks out of their end and managing just two shots in the first period. San Jose was aggressive at the start after scoring two goals in the previous three games, creating numerous chances and outshooting Colorado 6-1 in the first 10 minutes.

Damphousse broke through 1:34 into the second period, lifting a shot over David Aebischer's right shoulder after Niko Dimitrakos' shot from the side bounced through the crease. It was Damphousse's fifth goal of the series.

Goc made it 2-0 just more than seven minutes later, tipping Curtis Brown's shot past Aebischer's stick side.

Cheechoo added to the lead just three minutes later when he kept the puck on a two-on-one, deked Paul Kariya to the ice and beat Aebischer with a wrist shot a few seconds after San Jose killed off a penalty.

But Hejduk scored with 2:26 left in the period, bouncing a shot off Nabokov's mask from the left circle with Colorado on a two-man advantage.

The Avalanche turned up the pressure in the third period, but Nabokov was there each time. He stopped nine shots in the period to finish the series with a 1.01 goals-against average.

[Last modified May 5, 2004, 01:00:41]

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