Patrick Roy has been an NHL heartbreaker for many years. Now he's getting a little of his own medicine from Mike Vernon.
Vernon was brilliant in the Detroit net and Vyacheslav Kozlov scored both goals as Detroit defeated the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 Monday night to take a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference championship series.Game 4 will be played Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings are trying to end a 42-year drought without a Stanley Cup championship. The best-of-7 series moves back to Colorado for Game 5 on Saturday night.
Colorado never lost two straight games during last year's run to the Stanley Cup. But these playoffs have been a different story. The Avalanche lost Games 3 and 4 in Chicago during the first round and now have dropped two straight to Detroit.
The big reason is Vernon. Despite the fact that each team had 28 shots on goal in Monday's game, there was a wide gap in quality shots. As a result, Vernon was tested time after time.
"Mike Vernon played very well for them," Colorado coach Marc Crawford said. "He kept them in the game. Goaltending has been a big factor in this series. Both goaltenders have played extremely well. Vernon was great tonight. He gave them a chance to get into the game."
Colorado, outshot 75-36 during the first two games, looked more like the defending Stanley Cup champions Monday. The Avalanche outshot Detroit 21-15 through the first two periods. Only a big rush in the third period evened things up for Detroit.
Roy was pulled for the extra attacker with 1:04 remaining, but Vernon was up to the challenge.
"They're a pretty good defensive club," Crawford said. "It's not an easy task to get as many chances as you'd like against that team. But you're in the semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs and nothing should come easy at this time."
Kozlov's second goal of the game, and seventh of the playoffs, came on a wrist shot that sailed over Roy's blocker and just inside the right post at 8:20 of the third period.
"Kozzie plays with a lot of heart," Detroit forward Darren McCarty said. "He's an underrated player in this league because people overlook him."
Joe Sakic's sixth goal pulled the Avalanche into a 1-1 tie on a power play at 14:47 of the second period. It was the fifth time in the game Colorado had a man advantage as the Red Wings slipped into an old habit of taking bad penalties.
"Both goalies played pretty well," Sakic said. "We had our chances in the third period, but we didn't get it done."
Kozlov opened the scoring on the second shot of the game, taking a pass from Sergei Fedorov in front of the net and shooting it past Roy's blocker for a 1-0 Detroit lead at the 1:12 mark.
The rest of the first period was a virtuoso performance by Vernon in the Detroit goal. As a result, it was the first time in 13 playoff games the Red Wings held the lead after the first period.
"Vernie came up big and made some great saves," Detroit forward Doug Brown said. "It was a big effort by Michael."
It was Colorado's first visit to Joe Louis Arena since the infamous donnybrook March 26, the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the teams. That night, Detroit was called for 19 penalties totaling 73 minutes while the Avalanche served 75 minutes and 20 penalties. Even the goalies fought that night.
This time, Roy and Vernon battled with their great athletic skills.
Ten of Colorado's 13 first-period shots came during three power-play situations. Most of them were quality shots that had Vernon scrambling.