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Sakic's goal 1:54 into OT forces Game 6

5/3/2004

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Peter Forsberg had no need to look. He
knew Joe Sakic would be in position for his blind backhand pass --
and he knew the Colorado captain would keep the Avalanche in the
playoffs.

Sakic scored his second goal 1:54 into overtime and the
Avalanche avoided elimination for the second time, beating the
Sharks 2-1 Saturday to cut San Jose's lead to 3-2 in the
second-round series.

Sakic also tied it midway through the third period for the
Avalanche, who dominated the final two periods and overtime to hand
the Sharks their first home loss in six playoff games.

Colorado also caused serious cracks in the confidence of the
young Sharks, who seemed to wilt under the pressure of a closeout
game. As demonstrated by Forsberg's chemistry with Sakic, the
Avalanche's veterans have been here before: They rallied from a 3-2
deficit against the Sharks two years ago.

"It's about momentum, and we've got it now," Sakic said.
"Everybody thought we were done, the worst team on the planet.
We've got too many quality guys to go out that way, but it doesn't
mean anything if we don't get the next one."

Game 6 is Tuesday night in Colorado, with a possible Game 7
scheduled for Thursday in San Jose.

Sakic, who forced this game with another overtime goal
Wednesday, was in perfect position for Forsberg's deft pass. He
beat Evgeni Nabokov low to the stick side for his seventh goal of
the postseason, tying San Jose's Patrick Marleau for the NHL lead.

"I just felt he was there," Forsberg said of Sakic on the
decisive assist. "The way we played in the second, third and
overtime, we showed a lot of heart. That's how we got to the
playoffs. We've had to work hard for everything in this series, but
we're finally catching some breaks."

Sakic said simply: "Peter knew."

Sakic scored his first goal on a pass from Teemu Selanne,
capping 30 minutes of dominant play by the Avalanche's prolific
forwards. Sakic, Forsberg, Selanne and their teammates couldn't get
rolling until they were two periods from summer vacation -- but once
their high-priced lineup kicked into gear, the Sharks couldn't keep
up.

"We haven't had the momentum in our court yet, so this is
fun," defenseman Adam Foote said. "We're very confident. Now
we've got to go home and do the same thing."

The Avalanche are halfway to the third comeback from an 0-3
series deficit in NHL history -- and after San Jose's confused,
tentative play in Game 5, Colorado seems quite capable of the first
such rally since 1975, when the New York Islanders accomplished the
feat.

David Aebischer made 21 saves and possibly turned the tide in
his goalie matchup with Nabokov, who was repeatedly left
unprotected by the Sharks' shoddy defense and backchecking. After
getting pulled in Game 1, Aebischer has allowed just two goals in
three games -- though he was barely tested Saturday.

Nabokov made 16 saves, but his teammates admitted they gave
their worst performance of the playoffs. After Vincent Damphousse
scored during a two-man advantage late in the first period, the
Sharks generated just three shots in the next 35 minutes.

"Some guys failed miserably in the last couple of games to get
the job done," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "That team was
coming hard. They played with a desperation we hadn't seen from
them in this series."

After several defensive miscues and Colorado near-misses that
caused grumbling in the sellout crowd, the Avalanche finally broke
through with 10:10 left in the third period. Selanne circled the
net and found Sakic, who slipped in for his sixth goal of the
playoffs.

The Sharks had won five straight home playoff games, outscoring
opponents 16-5 -- but they seem far from wrapping up the franchise's
first trip to the Western Conference finals. After the first
period, they had none of the energy or passion of their first nine
playoff games.

"They didn't do anything special," defenseman Kyle McLaren
said of the Avalanche. "We pretty much gave it to them. They threw
everything at us. ... We usually don't sit back and wait. That's
surprising."

Game notes
Star Colorado D Rob Blake attempted to come back from the
upper-body injury that kept him out of Game 4, but played just one
shift before heading to the locker room. The Avalanche anticipated
Blake's problems, scratching C Riku Hahl and activating D Kurt
Sauer. ... Sharks LW Scott Thornton sat out for the fourth time in
six games due to an undisclosed injury.