DETROIT -- Playing as if they were petrified at the thought of playing Game 7 of the Western Conference finals at Denver, the Detroit Red Wings finished off the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, 3-1, last night to earn their second trip in three years to the Stanley Cup finals.
The Red Wings will be trying to win their first cup since 1955 when they face the Flyers in a best-of-seven series that begins Saturday in Philadelphia. In their previous trip to the finals in 1995, the Red Wings were routed in four games by the New Jersey Devils.
"I told the team before the game, it's so hard to get to the finals, they would rue the day they showed up and didn't play the game of their lives," Detroit coach Scotty Bowman said. "When you can knock out the Stanley Cup champions in one game, you've got to do it."
Patrick Roy was about all that separated the Red Wings from what could have been a blowout. Detroit sent shot upon shot at the Colorado goalie during a furious opening 20 minutes. But no matter if it was Vyacheslav Fetisov on a rocket from the slot, Brendan Shanahan from point-blank range in front of the crease or Steve Yzerman on a wraparound attempt, Roy knocked away all 14 shots. Overall, Roy stopped 40 of 42 shots.
"Ultimately they wore our team down," Colorado coach Marc Crawford said. "Patrick gave us a chance to steal one, but at this level, you don't try to steal games."
The Avalanche, on the other hand, barely bothered Red Wings goalie Mike Vernon, who stopped 15 of 16 shots.
Penalties were of no real consequence for either team. The relatively gentlemanly behavior was in stark contrast with the 204 minutes of infractions the two teams had accumulated in Game 4 in Detroit, which the Red Wings won, 6-0.
Detroit finally solved Roy at 3: 29 of the second period on Martin Lapointe's blast from atop the left circle.
It was the first goal Roy had allowed in more than five periods, dating to Game 4.
The Red Wings had been dominated by the Avalanche, 6-0, in Game 5 at Denver and several of the Detroit players said they had to win last night -- a tacit admission that they were long shots in a series finale on Avalanche ice.
A sense of desperation marked Detroit's play even as it took a 1-0 lead into the third period. The Red Wings continued to storm Roy, getting a second goal at 6: 11, when Fedorov scored off a pass from Slava Kozlov, who had deftly worked his way behind the net and past Sandis Ozolinsh for the feed.
The Avalanche scored at 14: 48 of the third period on Scott Young's rebound of Adam Deadmarsh's shot. It was the team's 15th shot on goal, as Detroit controlled the puck and kept relentless heat on Roy.
Colorado 0 0 1 -- 1
Detroit 0 1 2 -- 3
Second period--1, Detroit, Lapointe 2 (Larionov), 3: 29.
Third period--2, Detroit, Fedorov 5 (Kozlov, Brown), 6: 11. 3, Colorado, Young 4 (Deadmarsh, Forsberg), 14: 48. 4, Detroit, Shanahan 6 (Larionov), 19: 30 (en).
Shots on goal--Colorado 3-5-8--16. Detroit 14-16-12--42. Power-play opportunities--Colorado 0 of 3; Detroit 0 of 3. Goalies--Colorado, Roy 10-7 (42 shots-40 saves). Detroit, Vernon 12-4 (16-15). A--19,983 (19,983).
Pub Date: 5/27/97