DENVER (AP) _ With Peter Forsberg setting up goals, Joe Sakic scoring them
and David Aebischer preventing them, the Colorado Avalanche couldn't have asked
for a better start to the playoffs.
The Dallas Stars, on the other hand, have to be wondering when their top
players are going to show up.
``Their big guys over there are killing us right now,'' Dallas center Mike
Modano said after Colorado's 5-2 victory in Game 2 Friday night. ``Whoever is
on the ice against these guys have to be on their toes and be real sharp and
smart. Right now those three, four guys are taking us apart.''
At least the Stars are heading home now where they went 26-7-8 this season.
They will host Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-seven series Monday and Wednesday.
The Avalanche struggled the last month of the regular season but figured
their top players would be able to pick it up once the playoffs started.
They were right.
Sakic ended the regular season with one goal in Colorado's final seven
games, but has scored in each game against Dallas. Aebischer has looked a lot
like mentor Patrick Roy in his first two playoff starts, turning away 56 of 59
All-Star defenseman Rob Blake is back to being his steady self after an
inconsistent end to the season, staying strong at the blue line and chipping in
Then there's the AMP line of Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk and Forsberg.
Forsberg has filled his usual role in the playoffs, creating havoc all over
the ice with a combination of grit and grace. He had the first goal in
Colorado's 3-1 victory in Game 1, and added another along with an assist in
Game 2. This from a player who led the NHL in scoring during the 2002 playoffs
after missing the regular season.
Tanguay picked up where he left off before sitting out the season's final 10
games with a knee injury. He has goals in both games and an assist in Game 2
after scoring 25 goals and a career-high 79 points during the season. Hejduk
has added two assists and done a good job of cycling the puck to his linemates.
The trio has combined for four goals and four assists in two games.
``There's a lot of desperation out there with those guys and when they get
going, they're a tough line to stop,'' Avalanche defenseman Bob Boughner said.
``It doesn't matter who's playing against them. I remember playing against the
Avalanche, and when those guys are on the top of their game it's a long night
It's going to be a short series if the Stars' stars don't get going.
Modano had the first goal in Game 2, but hasn't had room to create much
else. Bill Guerin, Dallas' leading scorer in the regular season with 34 goals
and 69 points, has no points and five shots in the series.
Defenseman Richard Matvichuk was on the ice for all three Colorado goals in
Game 1 and is minus-5 in the series.
Then there's Marty Turco. He had a career-high 37 wins during the season and
was third in the league with a 1.98 goals-against average, but has allowed
eight goals against the Avalanche. Granted, his teammates haven't helped by
giving Colorado 14 power plays _ three goals _ but he's going to need to be
better if the Stars are going to send the series back to Denver next week.
``Personally, regardless of the goals, the amount of them, I just (want to)
give my team a chance,'' Turco said. ``I've been trying to do that, so it
doesn't really matter what has happened. It's what is going to happen that
matters the most for us.''
But for the Stars to get their scorers going it again, they'll have to find
a way to create more space through the neutral zone.
The Stars' top two lines are at their best when they can generate speed
across their opponent's blue line, but the Avalanche have been superb at
standing the Stars up in the neutral zone and forcing them to dump pucks into
``It's just trying to eliminate their space and time in the neutral zone and
not let them wind up with some speed _ just executing defensive play in the
neutral zone,'' Boughner said. ``I think the guys that are assigned to that
job, are doing a heck of job. It's everybody coming together and doing the