Red Wings lose game, captain

Posted: Sunday, May 02, 2004

DETROIT The Detroit Red Wings lost captain Steve Yzerman, then the game.

Craig Conroy scored with 3:53 left in the second period soon after Yzerman was hit in the face with a puck and Miikka Kiprusoff made 31 saves to lift the Calgary Flames to a 1-0 victory over Detroit in Game 5 on Saturday.

Calgary leads 3-2 in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series, and can eliminate the star-studded Red Wings with a win at home Monday night. If necessary, Game 7 will be back in Detroit on Wednesday.

Kiprusoff's second shutout of the playoffs was the first against the Red Wings in Detroit since 1997, 52 games ago. Detroit pulled goaltender Curtis Joseph with 48 seconds left, put pressure on Kiprusoff, but could not get a shot past him.

When Kiprusoff made the final save, he held the puck above his head as a blue light signaling the end of the game went on behind him.

About four minutes before Conroy scored, on an assist from Jarome Iginla, Yzerman left the game.

Detroit's Mathieu Schneider fired a shot that ricocheted in front and hit Yzerman squarely in the face as he stood to the left of the net.

Yzerman, who doesn't wear a face shield, immediately dropped to the ice. He kicked his legs in pain as he was sprawled out. After being down for a couple minutes, with the crowd watching in stunned silence, Yzerman was helped to the dressing room as a towel was held near his left eye.

The crowd was quiet again when the game ended.

The Flames, in the playoffs for the first time since 1996, are in the second round for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 1989.

Before the playoffs started, the Presidents' Trophy-winning Red Wings were favored to win the Cup for the fourth time in eight years. But they are now one loss away from an early ending.

Kiprusoff, a Vezina Trophy finalist, had the first postseason shutout of his career in the first round on April 13 against Vancouver. All he needed was Conroy's goal.

Avalanche 2, Sharks 1, OT

SAN JOSE, Calif. Joe Sakic seems determined to keep the Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs all by himself.

Sakic scored his second goal 1:54 into overtime and the Avalanche avoided elimination for the second time, beating the Sharks 2-1 Saturday to cut San Jose's lead to 3-2 in the second-round series.

The Colorado captain also tied it midway through the third period for the Avalanche, who dominated the final two periods and overtime to hand the Sharks their first home loss in six playoff games. Sakic made this game necessary with an overtime goal Wednesday.

Sakic scored this one on a pass from Teemu Selanne, capping 30 minutes of dominant play by the Avalanche's prolific forwards, who couldn't get rolling until they were two periods from summer vacation.

Sakic scored easily in the overtime, taking a backhand pass from Peter Forsberg and beating Evgeni Nabokov low to the stick side for his seventh goal of the postseason, tying San Jose's Patrick Marleau for the NHL lead.

The Avalanche are halfway to the third comeback from an 0-3 series deficit in NHL history and after San Jose's confused, tentative play in Game 5, Colorado seems quite capable of the first such rally since 1975, when the New York Islanders accomplished the feat.

Game 6 is Tuesday night in Colorado, with a possible Game 7 scheduled for Thursday in San Jose.

David Aebischer made 21 saves and possibly turned the tide in his goalie matchup with Nabokov, who was repeatedly left unprotected by the Sharks' shoddy defense and backchecking. After getting pulled in Game 1, Aebischer has allowed just two goals in three games though he was barely tested Saturday.

Nabokov made 16 saves, but his teammates followed up another splendid first period with their worst performance of the playoffs. After Vincent Damphousse scored during a two-man advantage late in the first period, the Sharks generated just three shots in the next 35 minutes.

After several defensive miscues and Colorado near-misses that caused grumbling in the sellout crowd, the Avalanche finally broke through with 10:10 left in the third period. Selanne circled the net and found Sakic, who slipped in for his sixth goal of the playoffs.

The Sharks had won five straight home playoff games, outscoring opponents 16-5 but they might be feeling the pressure of wrapping up the franchise's first trip to the Western Conference finals. Except for another strong first period, they had none of the energy or passion of their first nine playoff games.

Notes: Star Colorado D Rob Blake attempted to come back from the upper-body injury that kept him out of Game 4, but played just one shift before heading to the locker room in the first period. The Avalanche anticipated Blake's problems, scratching C Riku Hahl and activating D Kurt Sauer. ... Sharks LW Scott Thornton sat out for the fourth time in six games with an undisclosed injury. ... Steve Konowalchuk raised his arms in celebration after tapping a rebound under Nabokov early in the third period but the puck hit the post and skittered across the goal line before Scott Hannan knocked it away.

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