DETROIT -- It wasn't enough for Sergei Fedorov of the Red Wings to check Wayne Gretzky and stifle his offensive brilliance in the previous round against St. Louis. It still wasn't enough for Fedorov to set up a fistful of goals in the current series against the Colorado Avalanche.
Fedorov's teammates, the team owner, the fans and the media critics wanted goals from Fedorov in the NHL Western Conference finals. So he scored one Monday night and set up another in a 5-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena that sent the series back to Denver for Game 6 tonight.
"I don't know if he put pressure on himself," said Vladimir Konstantinov, Fedorov's teammate.
"I know we've been talking to him a lot. He'd been playing very good defensively. We said he needs to play much better offensively because he is the man who can turn the game around."
The Wings still trail in the series, 3-2, and could be eliminated at McNichols Arena tonight. But if they win, the teams will return to Detroit for a Friday night finale for the right to face Pittsburgh or Florida in the Stanley Cup finals.
Fedorov, their most talented and most important player, said, "I want to win badly in Colorado, very, very bad."
"I just want to put my best game," he added. "Be so hungry for it, put more intensity into it, but stay very cool about all those dirty tricks they try to put on you."
Although tied with Steve Yzerman for the team lead in postseason points with 20, Fedorov has scored only two goals in 18 playoff games. The other points have come on assists. What was his reaction to the criticism of the impatient fans?
"I hope it motivates me, but I really don't think about those people much," he said. "I think about team play, not to be selfish, make sure I am a team player. I don't know if everybody recognizes this."
One critic he took seriously was Mike Ilitch, the team owner, who visited him for a little chat.
"Mr. Ilitch came before Game 2 against Colorado," Fedorov said. "He was basically saying that I used to go around the defense, I used to go deep in the zone, and now I'm kind of stopped and waiting for the second wave coming in.
"I guess I understood it. I said, 'Yes, I was doing this on purpose' because I was thinking more defense, probably."
Fedorov said the owner "put nice, fresh thoughts in my head" and added: "What else can we do but listen to him and make sure we do what he said?"
Fedorov has eight points in the past three games. In Monday's game, coach Scotty Bowman reunited him on a line with Slava Kozlov on left wing and Doug Brown on the right.
Fedorov continually created chances for himself and his linemates by skating the puck deep and wide into the Colorado zone. Kozlov and Brown also scored.
Pub Date: 5/29/96