Final OT

Series (Game 1 of 1)

Colorado leads 1-0

Game 1: Friday, December 6th

Canadiens 6

(10-10-2, 26 pts)

Avalanche 7

(9-7-3, 29 pts)

9:00 PM ET, December 6, 2002

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

1 2 3 OT T
MTL 1 4 1 06
COL 2 2 2 17

J. Sakic (Avalanche - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

D. Gilmour (Canadiens - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

R. Vrbata (Avalanche - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Sakic collects two goals, two assists

DENVER (AP) -- The Colorado Avalanche are glad Radim Vrbata didn't follow his first instinct when he got the puck in overtime.

Joe Sakic

Vrbata looked to pass, but with his teammates covered he decided to shoot and scored a power-play goal 1:52 into the extra period as the Colorado Avalanche snapped a two-game losing streak with a 7-6 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.

"I was just waiting for someone to get open and with a four-on-three advantage, you have a little bit more time to find someone,'' Vrbata said. "They played everyone well and when nobody was open I took the shot.''

Colorado's Steve Reinprecht had tied the game in final two minutes of regulation, and Joe Sakic added two goals, Nos. 498 and 499 of his career, and added two assists.

Milan Hejduk had a goal and an assist on the seventh anniversary of the trade that sent goaltender Patrick Roy along with Mike Keane to Colorado in exchange for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and Andre Kovalenko.

Doug Gilmour had a goal and two assists for Montreal, which is winless in its last four games and winless in six games played in Denver (0-4-1-1).

Montreal had killed seven previous power plays when Saku Koivu was sent off for slashing at the end of regulation. The power play carried over into overtime.

Vrbata sent a shot through a crowded crease and past Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore.

"We found a way to win,'' Colorado coach Bob Hartley said. "There were great chances on both sides, but the bottom line was that we got the tying goal late in the game and scored on the power play.''

In the final minutes of regulation, the Avalanche pulled Roy in favor of a sixth skater, and Reinprecht poked the puck under Theodore's glove with 1:16 remaining.

"It was a great decision by Bob (Hartley) to pull me in and put a sixth guy on the ice,'' Roy said. "And Rhino scored a big goal for us.''

Gilmour scored on a shot off Randy McKay's leg a minute earlier to give Montreal a 6-5 lead.

Sakic sent a wrist shot past Theodore at 6:41 of the third period to tie the game at 5-5.

"You better win the game when you score six goals on Patrick Roy, and we didn't,'' Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "We moved the puck well and did a great job of killing penalties and still couldn't win.''

Montreal scored four goals on 11 shots in the second period to take a 5-4 lead.

Andreas Dackell and Mike Ribero scored 24 seconds apart to put the Canadiens ahead 3-2, but Dean McAmmond tied it at 3-all at 6:15 on his first goal with Colorado.

Montreal regained the lead at 7:21 when Chad Kilger flipped the puck over Roy's left shoulder, but Hejduk matched it with a wraparound goal at 13:16. The Canadiens took the lead on Stephane Quintal's one-timer, off a pass from Joe Juneau, at 16:29.

"It looked like my goal would turn things for a little bit, but they came back,'' Quintal said. "You make a little mistake and guys like Sakic, Hejduk, Forsberg are going to put the puck in the net.''

The Avalanche led 2-1 after one period on Skoula's second goal of the year. Skoula sent a slap shot from the slot through a screen past Theodore.

Sakic and Martin Skoula had first-period goals to give Colorado a 2-1 lead. Andrei Markov tied it with a power-play goal at 17:14, converting a pass from Gilmour.

Game notes

Montreal played in Denver for the first time in three seasons. ... Saku Koivu and Peter Forsberg exchanged elbows after the first period, but weren't penalized. ... Colorado placed defenseman Adam Foote on the injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 3 with a strained groin. ... Winger Brad Larsen was sent to Colorado's AHL affiliate in Hershey for a three-game conditioning assignment.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press