Sunday, May 05, 2002

Avalanche 8, Sharks 2

AP Sports Writer

        DENVER — Embarrassed in Game 1 against San Jose, the Colorado Avalanche vowed to come back strong.

        Did they ever.

        Rob Blake scored twice and Colorado tied a team record for goals in a playoff game as the Avalanche breezed past the Sharks 8-2 on Saturday to even the best-of-seven series at 1.

        Colorado was sluggish in a 6-3 loss in Game 1 with just one day of rest after a physical seven-game series with Los Angeles.

        “We wanted to redeem ourselves,” Colorado coach Bob Hartley said. “The players deserve a lot of credit because they prepared themselves and that's why we won.”

        In Game 2, with Blake back from a leg injury and the Avs coming off two days' rest, the defending Stanley Cup champions seemed to have more jump and were far more aggressive.

        They swarmed San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov even before Blake opened the scoring 8:54 into the game, then broke it open with four goals in the second period.

        It was the most goals by Colorado in a playoff game since June 6, 1996, when the Avalanche beat Florida 8-1 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

        “I think having two days off was the biggest thing,” said Colorado's Joe Sakic, who ended a six- game scoring drought with a goal in the second period. “Nobody liked the way we played in Game 1 and we came out with a lot of grit.”

        The Sharks were hoping to take the series back to San Jose Monday with a 2-0 lead, but wound up setting a team record for most goals allowed in a road playoff game. It was the most goals allowed by the Sharks in any game since Dec. 5, 1995, and one short of the playoff record.

        “I'm dissatisfied,” said San Jose coach Darryl Sutter, whose team allowed seven goals in five games against Phoenix in the first round.

        “I hope we are not satisfied with coming away with a split. Every game it starts over. If there is any of that in our locker room, then our team's in big trouble.”

        Colorado goalie Patrick Roy stopped 29 shots after allowing five goals in Game 1. The Avalanche have outscored their opponents 39-7 in the seven games following those in which Roy allowed five or more goals.

        Blake scored his first goal on a one-timer over Nabokov's left shoulder after Stephane Yelle fished a puck from between three players in the corner.

        Blake made it 2-0 1:38 into the second, working a give-and-go with Alex Tanguay during a 4-on-4 situation.

        Blake carried the puck into the Sharks' zone, faked a slap shot and dropped it to Tanguay. Nabokov came out to challenge Tanguay, but he faked the shot and sent it back to Blake, who was left with an open net.

        Blake, a Norris Trophy finalist, had not scored in the playoffs despite leading Colorado with 29 shots during the first round. He came out of the game midway through the second as a precaution, but said he will play in Game 3.

        “He was a major factor in three of their goals for sure, just off the top of my head,” Sutter said. “It's just an indication that their elite players, the guys who have won before, took them to another level today.”

        Peter Forsberg made it 3-0 at 8:36 of the second on a nifty move behind the net.

        Forsberg took a pass from Steven Reinprecht in the right corner, then faked to the left. Nabokov turned his head and slid to that side, but Forsberg went around the right and slipped in a wraparound just before Nabokov got his skate over.

        Sakic made it 4-0 1:05 later on a power play goal that was disputed by the Sharks.

        Sakic's wrist shot from the slot went in off the left post, but it bounced so quickly off the television camera inside the net that the officials didn't see it go in. The two teams played for 47 seconds before Colorado asked for a review at the next stoppage of play.

        “We tried every trick in the book to stall,” Hartley said. “The last thing I could do was roll on the ice.”

        Replays showed the puck clearly went into the goal — the camera shook after it was hit — but the Sharks argued for several minutes after the officials allowed it.

        “I don't know if that had any bearing, but it was a long time between face-offs,” San Jose's Mike Ricci said.

        Greg de Vries, Milan Hejduk, Eric Messier and Dan Hinote also scored for Colorado.

        Nabokov allowed eight goals on 28 shots and was pulled after Hinote's goal with 7:49 left in the game. Nabokov was already on the team bus and wouldn't come out when reporters were let into the locker room.

        Patrick Marleau and Stephane Matteau scored for San Jose.

        Notes: Colorado became the first team to win at home in five games between the Avs and Sharks this season. ... San Jose is 3-15 in day playoff games (before 7 p.m. local time) since 1999. ... San Jose lost for just the second time in eight games at the Pepsi Center since 1999. ... Marleau has five goals and four assists in seven playoff games. ... Darius Kasparaitis had an assist on Messier's goal for his first point since being traded from Pittsburgh on March 19. ... Forsberg leads the NHL with 11 points in the playoffs.


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