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Colorado heads home with 3-1 lead

4/15/2004

DALLAS (AP) -- In a lineup boasting proven playoff performers,
the key forward for the Colorado Avalanche this postseason could be
Marek Svatos.

A rookie who played just four regular-season games, Svatos
scored 5:18 into double overtime, giving Colorado a 3-2 victory
over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night and sending the Avalanche
home with a 3-1 lead in their first-round series.

Svatos has contributed in every game Colorado won. He had
assists in the first two games, then didn't have a point in Game 3,
the only one the Avs lost.

His overtime goal kept the Avalanche from dropping consecutive
games in which they led by two goals. It also bailed out the
offense on a night when it was outshot 43-21 and gave goaltender
David Aebischer a much-deserved victory.

"I was just trying to get a shot on net, and it went in,"
Svatos said. "It's the greatest feeling in my hockey career."

A Slovakian drafted in the 10th round in 2001, Svatos made the
team in training camp but injured a shoulder in the second game of
the season. He didn't return until the final two games yet showed his
scoring touch with two goals in those four games, including a
game-winner.

"After all he went through in the regular season, we couldn't
wait to give this guy an opportunity," Avs coach Tony Granato
said.

Now Colorado heads back to Denver with the chance to end the
series in Game 5 on Saturday. The Avalanche won the first two games
there by scores of 3-1 and 5-2.

Dallas has two days to figure out why so many scoring chances
produced only two goals -- one on a 5-on-3 and another that changed
directions off a defenseman's skate.

"We worked very hard and had chances, but you have to play with
passion, get to the net and cash in on opportunities," coach Dave
Tippett said.

The Stars lost for only the second time in 21 home games. Not
even the support of their fans could pull them through while they
outshot Colorado 14-3 in the third period and 12-3 in the first
overtime.

"I feel like we deserved a better fate," Dallas captain Mike Modano said. "We played a solid game. We had so many scoring opportunities that we didn't take advantage of."

Aebischer deserves credit, too. He made 27 of his 41 saves after the second period, looking more like the guy he replaced, Patrick Roy, than a playoff novice coming off his first loss, a game in which he let a two-goal lead turn into an overtime loss.

"He showed poise and confidence," Granato said. "They got a
good bounce on the second goal, but it didn't rattle him. His body
language was that nothing is getting past me. We were confident
he'd stop anything."

Milan Hejduk scored Colorado's first goal on a power play, and
Joe Sakic followed soon after with a short-handed goal. Dallas
answered quickly with Sergei Zubov scoring during a 5-on-3
advantage, then Pierre Turgeon tied it with 8:46 left in regulation
on a shot that went off Colorado's Bob Boughner.

The Stars came out firing against Aebischer in the first
overtime, getting credit for five shots in the first five minutes.
There were more narrow misses, including several by Bill Guerin,
who took 11 shots after having just seven in the first three games combined.

Colorado had more jump to start the second overtime. On the
winning play, Svatos skated the puck into the Dallas zone, saw
Hejduk take out Zubov and spun around Dallas' Chris Therien. The youngster then shot it past Therien and Turco into the upper right
corner of the net.

"It was a great move to get into the open area. He made a great
shot," Turco said. "It's too bad I couldn't have made the save
there."

Turco, an All-Star in each of his first two seasons as a starter,
has been outplayed by Aebischer -- and he knows it. He said he needs
to improve if the Stars are going to get back into this series.

"If I make the saves I should, we can be a lot better," he
said. "I have to stop the puck with a little better efficiency."

Game notes
Colorado's Peter Forsberg ended a nine-game point streak.
... Dallas has allowed two first-period goals in all four games.
The Stars did that just five times all season. ... Colorado lost a
potential goal just 3:07 in when video replay couldn't clearly show
whether the puck went in before Turco stopped it. ... Guerin got an
assist on Zubov's goal. It was his first point against the Avs this
season and his first playoff point in two seasons with Dallas. He
missed the postseason last year because of a gruesome thigh injury.