Earthquake triggers Avalanche on Sharks

Posted: Tuesday, May 14, 2002

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- After an earthquake shook the Compaq Center, Peter Forsberg's goal 2:47 into overtime gave the Avalanche a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night and sent the Western Conference semifinal playoff series back to Colorado for a deciding Game 7.

The game was marked by a substantial earthquake that had a preliminary magnitude of 5.2 and shook the arena with about nine minutes left in the third period.

The sellout crowd of 17,146 was unruffled, apparently more interested in the tight game on the ice, and play continued uninterrupted.

Forsberg took a pass from Joe Sakic and beat Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov from right in front of the crease. It was Forsberg's sixth goal of the playoffs.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche were on the verge of elimination by the Sharks, who have never been to the conference finals. The series is tied 3-3.

Patrick Roy, who has struggled during the series, stopped 21 San Jose shots. He has allowed a surprising 18 goals during the series against the Sharks. But since 1996, Roy has rebounded well after allowing five or more goals in a playoff game. He's 9-0 with three shutouts, and the Avalanche have outscored opponents 45-8.

Nabokov stopped 27 shots.

Colorado dropped Game 5 in Denver on Saturday, when the Sharks scored three times in the final 20 minutes for a 5-3 victory and a chance to eliminate the Avalanche on home ice.

But the Avalanche have been on the brink of elimination before.

In the Stanley Cup finals against the New Jersey Devils last year, Colorado lost Game 5 at home to trail 3-2 in the series. The Avalanche rebounded with a shutout of the Devils before winning the Stanley Cup at home.

Defense was dominant on both sides throughout.

With Adam Foote in the box for tripping Scott Thornton, the Sharks peppered Roy with shots. Forward Mike Ricci charged into a crowd of Avalanche players to get to a loose puck -- somersaulting over the group -- but Roy stopped the shot.

Nabokov deftly deflected Sakic's hard shot from the right circle with just under four minutes left in the period. Sakic has given the Sharks trouble throughout the series, with three goals in the past two games and 10 points overall.

The Avalanche went on a power play at 10:59 in the second period when Vincent Damphousse was penalized for slashing, but they were unable to get past Nabokov.

With just under six minutes to go, San Jose defenseman Marcus Ragnarsson looked surprised when his hard shot from the left circle got past Roy. It was Ragnarsson's first goal in 40 playoff appearances.

But 24 seconds later, Steven Reinprecht took the puck, circled around the net and beat Nabokov from the right side to even it at 1-all.

Both teams had their chances in the tense third period.

Damphousse and Sharks captain Owen Nolan skated in on Roy alone, but Damphousse's shot went just wide of the goal. On the other side, Rob Blake's shot dribbled across the crease past Nabokov, but defenseman Scott Hannan skated in to make a spectacular save.

The earthquake, which was centered near Gilroy, south of San Jose, hit later in the third and shook the rafters of the arena.

Notes: Oakland Raiders receiver Jerry Rice was at the game. ... The Sharks' home-ice advantage doesn't mean too much for the Avalanche, who had won seven of their last eight games at the Shark Tank. ... The Sharks fall to 5-1 in the playoffs when they score first.

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