Devils force Avs into slide

New Jersey one win away from retaining Stanley Cup

Posted: Tuesday, June 05, 2001

DENVER -- Sorry, Ray Bourque, but the New Jersey Devils seem to have a Mission 16W, too -- and it could end at Exit 16W of the New Jersey Turnpike on Thursday night.

The Devils, who won the Stanley Cup on the road last season, moved within a victory of winning it again Monday night. They beat the Colorado Avalanche on their own ice for the second straight time, a 4-1 victory secured by Alexander Mogilny's first goal in 15 games.

Sergei Brylin also ended a long streak with his first goal in 12 games. Patrick Elias, playing without injured A-Line center Jason Arnott, scored his second in as many games as New Jersey won for the third time in four games to seize a 3-2 series lead.

''We've got a little edge right now and we want to put them away,'' Devils forward Scott Gomez said. ''But the last one is the hardest to get.''

The Devils' biggest worry might be going home. They're 5-1 on the road in the finals against Dallas and Colorado the last two years and 8-3 on the road in these playoffs, but 7-5 at the Meadowlands, where Game 6 will be Thursday night.

''These opportunities don't come very often, in front of our fans,'' Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said. ''We don't want to bring it back here for a Game 7.''

Now, Bourque's Mission 16W -- his attempt to win his first Stanley Cup in 22 seasons -- may end a couple of Ws short. The 16W represents how many wins are needed to get the cup.

Continental Airlines Arena, the Devils' home, is located at the turnpike's Exit 16W, and Bourque suggested playing a desperation game might be just what the Avalanche need.

''There's no quit in us,'' Bourque said. ''Obviously, we have lost the last two games and that is disappointing, but we are still alive and we have all intentions of coming back for Game 7. That's the plan, and we are going to go to New Jersey and we are going to get it done.''

Bourque had a testy exchange with reporters after the game when repeatedly asked about his frustration. He kept repeating he wasn't frustrated and, taking a jab at the Devils, said the Los Angeles and St. Louis series were more physical than this one. ''I've got a lot of gas left in the tank. ... There's no frustration here.''

There is no margin for error, either, for a team that was within 11 minutes of taking a 3-1 series lead in Game 4 at New Jersey before goalie Patrick Roy abandoned his net and let in the tying goal.

Roy's problem Monday was he was anchored in the net. Colorado's repeated attempts to force the offense after being held to 12 shots in Game 4 led to a succession of odd-man Devils breaks that led to the goals by Elias and Mogilny.

''Sometimes, we got too anxious,'' Colorado coach Bob Hartley said. ''You get caught up with all the talent the Devils have, and they make you pay. After that, you know they are going to clog up the middle.''

History certainly is on the Devils' side as they try to become the third team in the last 10 years to win consecutive cups, joining the 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins and 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings. Only three of the 16 teams that previously won Game 5 in a series tied 2-2 didn't win the cup, and it hasn't happened since 1971.

The Avalanche seem to be repeating history. They lost to Dallas the last two seasons on the road in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, both times after leading the series, so they made it a season-long goal to have home ice this time.

However, they may not make it to Game 7 this time, despite Bourque's prediction.

''We'll find out who wants to come out and play the next game,'' defenseman Greg de Vries said. ''We've got to want it more than they do.''

The Avalanche scored the opening goal in three of the first four games, but the Devils got it Monday with one of their five odd-man rushes in the first period -- more than they had in any previous game.

The 'A' was missing from the Devils' A-Line, but his linemates got the opening goal. Elias scored his second in as many games on a 2-on-1 break with Petr Sykora at 3:09 of the first.

Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote was caught between the two, and Roy gambled Foote could break up the pass. But Foote couldn't and, with Roy shifted to his left, Elias flipped the puck into the open side of the net for his ninth of the playoffs.

''You can't give guys like Mogilny and Elias 2-on-1s, because they're going to score every time they have those chances,'' Colorado's Alex Tanguay said.

With Arnott out with an apparent concussion, coach Larry Robinson moved Bobby Holik up to the Elias-Sykora line so Holik and defenseman Scott Stevens would always be on the ice against Joe Sakic's line. It worked, too, as Sakic had a quiet game, even though Colorado had 23 shots, 11 more than Saturday. Holik also played against scoring stars Mario Lemieux and Mats Sundin in previous series.

''It worked out great,'' Stevens said. ''Bobby did what he's been doing the whole playoffs.''

However, Holik was called for tripping Sakic in front of the net, and the Avalanche -- 0-for-5 on the power play in the 3-2 loss in Game 4 -- took advantage. Tanguay powered a slap shot past Brodeur at 10:09 of the first. The sequence started when Bourque broke up a 3-on-1 rush.

The winning goal came on another rush after Colorado forward Chris Drury tried to force the puck to de Vries in a crowded neutral zone. Devils defenseman Brian Rafalski deflected it to Gomez, who made a drop pass that Mogilny wristed by Roy to the stick side from the right circle -- ending a 14-game streak without a goal.

''That was the turning point, definitely,'' John Madden said.

Mogilny's fifth goal of the playoffs and his first since April 28 in Game 2 against Toronto came at 18:47 and wrested away from Colorado the momentum generated by Tanguay's goal.

''We capitalized on their mistakes,'' Mogilny said, referring to all the breakouts. ''We certainly haven't been playing to our potential, but tonight everybody showed up.''

Brylin made it 3-1 at 15:21 of the second on a power play created by Rob Blake's interference penalty, perfectly deflecting a slap shot by Mogilny from the right circle. As Roy stood up to play Mogilny's shot, Brylin's deflection scooted underneath Roy's glove.

The first two-goal lead of the series for New Jersey, and Colorado's first two-goal deficit in these playoffs, allowed the Devils to settle in a neutral zone trap that the Avalanche had little success attacking.

Madden added the Devils' fourth goal on another rush in the final two minutes.

Notes: Elias has 16 goals in the playoffs the last two seasons. ... John Elway watched from a private box. ... Brodeur, who can tie Roy with three Stanley Cups by winning this series, has won seven of his last eight road playoff games. ... New Jersey has won the last 13 playoff road games in which it held a lead. ... After the game, the public address announcer told fans the Avalanche's next home game would be Game 7 Saturday night. ... New Jersey also is 13-0 when leading after two periods. ... With Arnott out, Jim McKenzie played for only the third time in the playoffs. Defenseman Ken Sutton also replaced Sean O'Donnell, who was beaten for a goal in Game 4.

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