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Avs, Devils show mettle

Taken to Game 7s in hard-fought series, each wins convincingly to advance to the conference finals.

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 10, 2001

The Avalanche, scoreless in its previous two games as the Kings tied their Western Conference semifinal series at 3, broke out for four goals in the third period and sent Los Angeles out of the playoffs with a 5-1 win Wednesday night.

In the East semifinals, the Devils completed a major series comeback for the second straight year by beating the Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7. They won the series' last two games after trailing three games to two.

The Avalanche plays the Blues in the West final, which begins Saturday at Colorado. In the East final, the Devils play the winner of tonight's Penguins-Sabres Game 7 beginning Saturday at New Jersey.

Rob Blake, traded from Los Angeles to Colorado in February, scored the first goal for the Avs, with 1:31 left in the first period. Los Angeles' Nelson Emerson tied it at 1 with 1:29 left in the second. But 3:03 into the third, Chris Drury started what for the Avalanche was an avalanche of goals. The final score, by Milan Hejduk, went into an empty net with 3:35 left in the game.

The Kings ended a phenomenal playoff run that included rallying from a 2-0 series deficit against the Red Wings in the first round. They were down 3-1 against Colorado before tying the series with consecutive 1-0 victories.

New Jersey, which overcame a 3-1 deficit to Philadelphia in last year's conference final, played without defenseman Scott Niedermayer, out with post-concussion headaches after Tie Domi's elbow in Game 4. The Devils hardly looked like they missed him.

"We played the last two games extremely well," coach Larry Robinson said. "I just asked them why they waited until the sixth and seventh games to do it. It would've saved me a lot of gray hairs."

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