Lupul nets 4 as Ducks win in OT
The Colorado Avalanche finally got their first goal of the series. But four goals from Joffrey Lupul denied them their first win.
Lupul's fourth goal at 16:30 of overtime lifted the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to a 4-3 victory over the hometown Avalanche in Game 3 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal before a crowd of 18,007 at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday.
Lupul took a drop pass from rookie Dustin Penner and unleashed a quick shot that grazed a defenceman's stick before trickling between JosÃ© ThÃ©odore's pads.
"It hit the stick in front of me," ThÃ©odore lamented. "If not, it's right in my chest."
"It's the best feeling I've ever had," Lupul said of his franchise-record four playoff goals on six shots.
"They just went in tonight. I got a couple of good passes and some breaks."
Penner finished with three assists as the sixth-seeded Mighty Ducks took a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Game 4 goes Thursday at Denver (10 p.m. EDT).
Rob Blake tied it 3-3 with 6:25 remaining in regulation, scoring his third goal of the playoffs on a slapshot from the point, but Colorado fell short of winning in OT for the first time in seven playoff games.
The Avalanche now find themselves in the improbable position of trying to win a series they trail 3-0, a feat accomplished by only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders.
"We're not too worried about winning four games in a row, we've got to win one," Blake said. "We understand our effort needs to be greater in the next game because they matched it [tonight] and beat us again."
Coming off three consecutive shutouts, rookie Ilya Bryzgalov held the opposition scoreless for 249 minutes, 15 seconds before Dan Hinote finally solved him with 27 seconds left in the first period.
Bryzgalov's scoreless streak was the second longest in NHL playoff history, trailing only the 270:08 set by George Hainsworth of the Montreal Canadiens in 1920.
"Sometimes, I saw three or four players in front of me," Bryzgalov said. "It was tougher for me to see the puck."
ThÃ©odore terrific in defeat
ThÃ©odore had 35 stops compared to 26 for Bryzgalov, and kept Colorado in contention with several acrobatic stops, including a sprawling glove save on Teemu Selanne in the second period and a twisting stick save on Andy McDonald in the third.
ThÃ©odore also made three sensational pad saves in OT, denying Chris Kunitz on a breakaway, Rob Niedermayer from five feet and Selanne at the left goalpost.
Jim Dowd led the seventh-ranked Avalanche with one goal and one assist.
"I thought the guys played really well tonight and still we didn't find a way to win," Avalanche forward Ian Laperriere said. "We just need to be more desperate."
Colorado opened the scoring in the waning seconds of the first period as Andrew Brunette stickhandled behind the net and slid a cross-crease pass to Hinote, who tapped it into the open side for his first goal of the playoffs.
"That goal was huge, especially at the end of the first period," Avalanche enforcer Brad May said. "It was just nice to solve that goaltender."
Anaheim tied it 1-1 as Lupul cruised into the slot and converted Penner's pass 9:02 into the second period, giving him a goal in each game of the series.
The Avalanche replied with a short-handed goal off a splendid solo rush by Milan Hejduk, who burst around defenceman Francois Beauchemin before feeding Dowd in the slot for his second at 4:47 of the third period.
But the Mighty Ducks remained determined and Lupul rewarded them by scoring twice in a span of 1:46.
First, he finished off a 2-on-1 break with Todd Marchant by beating ThÃ©odore high to the glove side at 8:54, then notched the hat trick by whisking in a similar shot, high to the glove side, to put Anaheim ahead 3-2 at the 10:40 mark.
"He is making a name for himself," Laperriere said of Lupul.
"Good for him, I guess. Bad for us."
with files from Canadian Press