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Avs push it to the limit

Patrick Roy blanks New Jersey 4-0 as Colorado forces Game 7 back in Denver.

[AP photo]
Patrick Roy makes one of his 24 saves en route to the Game 6 shutout.

©Associated Press

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 8, 2001


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A nine-month season has come down to one game for Colorado and New Jersey. A 22-season career may have come down to one game for Ray Bourque -- just as he promised it would.

Adam Foote had a goal and two assists and Patrick Roy turned aside a flurry of early New Jersey shots as the Avalanche prevented the Devils from clinching the Cup with a series-tying 4-0 victory Thursday night in Game6 of the Stanley Cup final.

Just as Bourque predicted, the Avalanche rebounded from its worst game -- a 4-1 loss at home Monday in Game 5 -- with a determined, dominating effort to force the first Game7 in the final since the Rangers beat the Canucks in 1994. It is the fourth Game 7 since 1967.

"It's like the Super Bowl now -- one game takes all," Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko said.

The Devils, clearly frustrated by Roy's errorless play after they had a succession of good scoring chances in the first 10 minutes, can win the Cup on the road for a second successive season despite failing to win it at home, just as they did last year.

However, they had plenty of margin for error last year before winning Game 6 at Dallas, with a Game 7 at home if necessary. Now they won't repeat unless they become the first team since the 1971 Canadiens to win Game 7 on the road. That was the last time a team rallied from a 3-2 deficit to win the cup.

"When the game is over and you can't pick a player who played well in a game as big as this, it's disappointing," Devils coach Larry Robinson said. "We do have the luxury of a Game 7, but we have to bring our work boots,"

The Avalanche, also getting goals from Ville Nieminen, Chris Drury and Alex Tanguay, became the first team since the 1964 Maple Leafs to win Game6 on the road when trailing 3-2 in the final.

Roy was spectacular, stopping 24 shots in his record 19th career playoff shutout, his record-tying fourth this season and his second of the series. The Avalanche won 5-0 in Game 1, their only victory in three home games.

"Patrick is giving us reasons to believe," Colorado coach Bob Hartley said. "That's the story of the game. We gave ourselves a chance tonight to get it to Game 7, and I don't know if a lot of people here tonight gave us a chance to do it."

The Avalanche can win its second Cup since 1996, deny the Devils a second straight Stanley Cup and finally give Bourque the prize he has chased for 22 seasons -- and may stop pursuing after this season, if the 40-year-old retires.

Bourque clearly isn't ready to quit yet, as evidenced by his strong words after Game 5. Then, not ready to concede his "Mission 16W" was over -- the 16 representing the wins needed to claim the Cup -- he said, "We are going to go to New Jersey, and we are going to get it done."

They did, and now it's 15W down and 1W to go for Bourque, who has played far more games -- 1,825 -- than any NHL player who has never won hockey's biggest prize.

During the two-day break between Games 5 and 6, Bourque never backed off an inch from his prediction. And Roy, whose careless journey from the net allowed the tying goal to score in the Devils' 3-2 comeback win in Game 4, never wandered from the net even once.

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