DENVER (AP) _ Evgeni Nabokov has turned away almost everything the Colorado
Avalanche have sent at him.
David Aebischer finally matched his counterpart and gave the Avalanche a
glimmer of hope. Now he just has to do it three more times.
``My confidence is always high. That hasn't changed,'' Aebischer said after
stopping 27 shots by San Jose on Wednesday night for his first playoff shutout.
``I know it's not going to be easy. I'm going to have to have a couple more
performances like that.''
At least he knows he can do it against the Sharks.
After three tough losses, Aebischer came up with the best game of his career
with Colorado's season in the balance.
The former backup to Patrick Roy played like his mentor, turning away shots
from all angles to keep the Avalanche in it until Joe Sakic flipped a wrist
shot past Nabokov 5:15 into overtime. It was a much better fate for Aebischer
than in Game 3, when he was close to perfect before San Jose's Vincent
Damphousse banked a shot off his back to give the Sharks a 1-0 victory and a
3-0 series lead.
``He was in one of those mindsets where he said, 'You are not going to beat
me,''' Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. ``He has done that when we have
needed him to step up.''
But he'll to have to keep doing it if the Avalanche are going to have any
chance of becoming the third team in 87 years to win a series after trailing
It certainly won't be easy.
Aebischer won four straight games twice in the regular season, but the
playoffs are different. Roy, who won two Stanley Cups with the Avalanche, won
four straight playoff games just once in his eight seasons in Denver.
Making matters worse, Game 5 on Saturday and a possible Game 7 are in San
Jose, where Aebischer gave up nine goals the first two games of the series and
was 1-1 with a 2.50 goals-against average in the regular season.
``We still feel confident,'' Sharks forward Todd Harvey.
They should with the way Nabokov has been playing.
He opened the postseason with a shutout against St. Louis and allowed eight
goals to help the Sharks close out the series 5-1. In four games against
Colorado, Nabokov allowed four goals in four games and had a shutout streak of
178 minutes, 14 seconds before Sakic's goal.
The Avalanche were much better at getting traffic in front of Nabokov
Wednesday night after being shut out in Game 3, but still had a hard time
beating him. Nabokov had several spectacular saves and only gave up the winner
after Mike Rathje couldn't control a puck out of the corner and Sakic was left
open in the crease.
``Nabokov has played really well and Abby was great again,'' Colorado
forward Peter Forsberg said. ``There's not going to be a whole lot of goals.''