Colorado won 4-3 (Game 4 of 7)

Colorado won 4-3

Game 1: Wednesday, May 1st
Game 2: Saturday, May 4th
Game 3: Monday, May 6th
Game 4: Wednesday, May 8th
Game 5: Saturday, May 11th
Game 6: Monday, May 13th
Game 7: Wednesday, May 15th

10:00 PM ET, May 8, 2002

SAP Center, San Jose, California

1 2 3 T
COL 2 0 24
SJ 0 1 01

J. Sakic (Avalanche - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

R. Blake (Avalanche - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

A. Graves (Sharks - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Colorado posts no-frills win to tie series

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- After a week of topsy-turvy, high-octane hockey, the Colorado Avalanche got back to basics: punishing defense, superstar scoring and workmanlike victories.

Captain Joe Sakic scored two goals, and Patrick Roy stopped 19 shots as the Avalanche beat the San Jose Sharks 4-1 on Wednesday night, evening their Western Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.

The defending Stanley Cup champions always seem to fix their problems just in time to avoid trouble, both in the regular season and the playoffs. Entering Game 4, the series had been an offensive circus, with 29 combined goals and far too much end-to-end play for either team's comfort.

So the Avalanche buckled down, holding a players' meeting on Tuesday in which they emphasized their commitment to their defense, which was the NHL's best during the regular season.

It showed in a victory that was never in much doubt.

"We had a lot more responsibility and toughness in our end in this one," Sakic said. "These two teams are pretty even. Whichever team has got the jump and the little edges is going to win."

The Avalanche's defensemen, who provided so little support for Roy in Game 3, were rock-solid, while their offensive stars got the big points expected of them.

Rob Blake opened the scoring with his fifth goal in three games. Peter Forsberg, the playoffs' leading scorer, and Alex Tanguay had two assists apiece as Colorado won at the Shark Tank for the sixth time in seven games since January 2000.

"We saw Avalanche hockey tonight," Colorado coach Bob Hartley said. "I thought it was a great effort from Patrick down to basically everyone in the lineup."

Colorado got this victory with a defensive tenacity lacking during San Jose's two wins in the series. Roy was rarely tested in winning his 143rd career playoff game.

"They're not the best defensive team in hockey for nine months and then all of a sudden lose it," Sharks coach Darryl Sutter said. "We have to be a little more determined in that area, and we have to make sure that we're as good as they are."

Game 5 of the best-of-seven series is Saturday night in Denver, with Game 6 Monday in San Jose.

A sellout crowd at the Shark Tank never had much opportunity to get excited during the Avalanche's methodical win, which ended with 38½ scoreless minutes before Milan Hejduk's empty-net goal.

Teemu Selanne scored his fourth goal in four games for the Sharks. A breakaway goal in the first period by Patrick Marleau was disallowed, and Colorado ended Marleau's eight-game points streak.

"I think we knew it was going to be a more low-scoring game, but they got their goals, and we didn't," Selanne said. "This was a good lesson for us. We have to be ready right away."

Roy improved to 8-0 in playoff games after allowing six goals or more with the Avalanche. His counterpart, Evgeni Nabokov, stopped 21 shots but was left helpless by San Jose's defensive mistakes on Colorado's first two goals.

For the second straight game, Blake gave the Avalanche an early lead, this time on a breakaway goal 5:26 in. Blake sat out Game 1 of the series with an injury, but scored two goals in each of the next two games.

"When you're getting a lot of chances like I am, you've got to bury them," Blake said. "I'm not going to get all the great opportunities, so I don't want to waste the ones that come my way."

The Sharks thought they had evened the score on Marleau's breakaway less than nine minutes in. In fact, the whistle had blown for a Colorado penalty several seconds earlier, but wasn't heard by Marleau or Roy above the crowd noise.

Colorado quickly added another score on Sakic's fifth goal of the playoffs. San Jose defenseman Scott Hannan made critical errors on both goals, with Blake streaking behind him and Sakic muscling past him for a quick shot between Nabokov's pads.

"That's not the way you want to start a game, that's for sure," Hannan said. "Any goal is going to cost you in the playoffs. Any mistake you make is going to be magnified."

Selanne scored by redirecting captain Owen Nolan's shot during a power play in the opening minute of the second period, but Sakic put it out of reach early in the third period when Nabokov allowed Sakic's fairly innocent shot to slide under him.

Game notes

Forsberg's three-game goal-scoring streak ended, but he extended his points streak to five games. ... Colorado has won nine of its last 15 road playoff games dating back to last season. ... Late in the first period, Nolan checked Darius Kasparaitis so hard at center ice that Nolan's stick broke in two. In the third, Nolan plastered Kasparaitis again, this time behind Colorado's net. ... Roy got his second assist of the playoffs on Blake's goal.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press