Avs eliminate Stars
Published: Monday, May 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
DALLAS - Jose Theodore played only five games for Colorado in the regular season. Now, after five postseason games he's already won over his new teammates.
Theodore stopped 11 shots in overtime before Andrew Brunette scooped a rebound over sprawling goaltender Marty Turco to give Colorado a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars - and wrap up the first-round series in five games for the seventh-seeded Avalanche.
"He's the reason we're standing here with smiles on our face, really. He was unbelievable today," said Colorado captain Joe Sakic, who scored his 81st career playoff goal and had the shot that led to the winner. "I mean, they could've ended it so many times - not only in overtime, but in the third. He kept us in and gave us a chance."
The Stars outshot Colorado 11-4 in the extra period, including seven shots during the frame's only power play. But Dallas couldn't solve Theodore.
Two days after the Stars avoided a sweep with a 4-1 victory, Theodore stopped 50 shots to end the series.
"I told (everyone), Theo's going to come back with a huge game. And he did," said Jim Dowd, who added a goal for the Avs. "He basically stole that game for us, especially in the overtime."
Dowd saw how Theodore bounced back from losses when they teammates in Montreal, which sent the former NHL MVP to Colorado at the trade deadline on March 8.
After the game ended, Turco stood motionless in his net for several minutes, staring down at the ice. He stopped 27 shots, including Sakic's before Brunette got the rebound, but lost a series in five games to Colorado in his second straight postseason.
"I did everything I could to get there, but he got it up," Turco said. "I gave it a chance with everything I had, but it wasn't enough."
Rookie goaltender Ryan Miller stopped 24 shots to record his first playoff shutout, and Tim Connolly and J.P. Dumont scored power-play goals and had an assist each in host Buffalo's win.
Maxim Afinogenov also scored, helping the Sabres bounce back from two road losses and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.
Game 6 is Tuesday at Philadelphia in a series in which the home team has won every game.
Rookie goalie Cam Ward stopped 30 shots to win his third straight start and Eric Staal and Matt Cullen had power-play goals to help host Carolina take 3-2 lead in the series with Montreal.
In each of the first four games, the visiting team came out on top, with three going beyond regulation. Carolina became the first host to take a two-goal lead before the Canadiens rallied, and now the teams head back to Montreal for Game 6.
Staal had the first goal, taking a backhand pass from Cory Stillman and sending a slap shot from the point past Cristobal Huet.
Cullen made it 2-0 in the second period when Montreal again was short-handed, after defenseman Andrei Markov sent the puck in the crowd. Another shot from the top got through Huet, with Cullen using a screen from Stillman for his third goal of the series.
Alex Kovalev brought the Canadiens to 2-1 with a beautiful goal in the final minute of the second.
The Avalanche won their third overtime game in the series, advancing to the second round for the eighth time in 10 postseason appearances.
Colorado got Theodore for David Aebischer, the goalie who beat the Stars in the 2004 playoffs. Theodore was recovering from a fractured right heel when he arrived, then was 1-3-1 down the stretch.
"It didn't take long until I felt comfortable," Theodore said. "But obviously until you get a couple of games in and they see that you're really committed and you really want to win, that's the main thing."
Theodore is the second high-profile goaltender that has been sent from Montreal to Colorado. The other was Patrick Roy, who became the winningest goalie in NHL history with Colorado and won two more Stanley Cups after being acquired during the 1995-96 season.
Mike Modano, the Stars captain, had to be helped off the ice midway through the third period when he took a hard hit to his head when he was charged by Brett Clark. No penalty was called.
Modano returned for overtime, drawing huge cheers when he was shown on the bench. His return to the ice was met by a standing, towel-twirling ovation, but couldn't save the Stars.
"It's frustrating," Modano said. "On paper we are a good team, but we didn't win when it counted."
Massachusetts native and huge Boston Red Sox fan Bill Guerin tied the game at 2 for the Stars with 17:13 left in regulation when he poked the puck away from Kurt Sauer and scored his second goal of the series.
Guerin reminded his teammates of 2004, when the Red Sox overcame an 0-3 deficit in the AL championship series against the New York Yankees and went on to win the World Series.
Only two NHL teams have come back from 0-3 deficits to win.
Unable to take advantage of a late power play, the Stars still almost avoided overtime. Sergei Zubov's shot with about 10 seconds left in regulation skimmed off the post.
The Stars dominated during the second period, and midway through had outshot Colorado 16-3 in the period and led 1-0. They kept plenty of pressure on Theodore, and at times had the puck in front of the net without being able to get a stick on it.
And they still trailed going to the locker room for the second intermission.
Dowd tied it at 1 with 6:57 left in the second when he knocked in a rebound to end Turco's 88-minute scoreless streak.
Sakic's goal, the most among active NHL players, came with only two seconds left in the middle period, when he pushed a bouncing puck through Turco's legs.
Dallas led 1-0 when Jussi Jokinen scored 4:25 into the second period. The rookie made a move similar to what he used to score 11 shootout goals in the regular season, this time with a defender riding on his back.
Turco didn't allow a first-period goal for the first time in 10 career playoff games against Colorado, stopping all seven shots. That was part of the first scoreless period in the series.
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