Thursday, April 29, 2004

Joe Sakic to the rescue

Colorado hockey fans can keep their dream alive for at least one more night, as Joe Sakic scored in Overtime to give the Avalanche a 1-0 win over the San Jose Sharks, avoiding the ugly possibility of being swept out of the playoffs on their own home ice. Sakic was the hero of the night, as he finally got a goal behind Evgani Nabakov at 5:15 of the first overtime, his first goal in this series which has featured a drought for many of the Avalanche scorers. Indeed Sakic’s marker was the first Colorado goal since the first period of game 2.

While the loss will be a disappointment for the Sharks who had hoped to put their stamp on this series with a four game sweep, they have the opportunity to win in five games on home ice Saturday afternoon.

Both goaltenders put on a pretty good show, with Aebischer collecting his first shut out in the playoffs as he held the fort for the Avs, turning aside all 27 Sharks shots. Evgani Nabakov was amazing in the Sharks end facing 35 shots from a determined Avalanche team, many of the saves on point blank blasts from the likes of Hejduk, Sakic and Hinote.

Despite the win the road ahead is tough one for the Avalanche who will have to take both games in San Jose and another in Denver to come back to win the series. The Sharks have outscored the Avs 9-3 on games in San Jose, so a change in approach is going to be necessary to reverse their fortune.

For Tony Granato this series could determine his fate as coach of the Avs. Had they been swept on Wednesday night it was generally believed that he would not be back next year. He may still be on the hot seat, his team was caught a couple of times making ill timed changes leaving Aebischer on his own to face down Shark scorers. Its miscues like that which can make the difference between a win and a loss, continuing on or being eliminated. Granato needs to have his team to mount a comeback and defy history, otherwise he will be history.

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