Thu, May 11, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Lupul overwhelms the Avalanche

AP , DENVER, COLORADO

Mighty Ducks of Anaheim right winger Joffrey Lupul moves in to score his third of four goals against Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jose Theodore during the third period of Game 3 in the second-round Western Conference playoffs at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, Tuesday. Lupul scored all four goals for the Mighty Ducks to beat the Avalanche 4-3 in overtime. Anaheim leads the series 3-0.

PHOTO: AP

For the first time in a while, Ilya Bryzgalov wasn't impeccable.

He didn't have to be -- because Joffrey Lupul was.

Anaheim and its rookie goalie are still perfect against Colorado thanks to Lupul, whose three goals in regulation and one in overtime gave the Ducks a 4-3 win on Tuesday night and a 3-0 lead in their Western Conference playoff series.

Lupul became the first player in NHL playoff history to cap a four-goal game with an overtime score.

"They just went in tonight," he said. "I got a couple of good passes. And some breaks."

Bryzgalov's shutout streak ended at three games, but the Ducks are still a win away from advancing to the conference finals.

The Ducks can complete the sweep Thursday night at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche will try to join the 1975 New York Islanders and the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only teams tin win series after losing the first three games.

"Obviously, it's slim," Avs defenseman Rob Blake said of Colorado's chances. "We're not too worried about winning four games in a row. We've got to win one. We understand our effort needs to be greater in the next game because they matched it [tonight] and beat us again."

Colorado had won its last six playoff overtime games, tops in the NHL and a franchise record, including three over Dallas in the first round of this year's playoffs.

After both teams killed a power play in the extra period, Dustin Penner stole the puck from Patrice Brisebois in the Colorado zone and fed Lupul, who added to his first career hat trick with a shot from between the circles that beat Avs goaltender Jose Theodore at 16:30 of overtime.

"It is the best feeling I've ever had," Lupul said of his game-winner.

Theodore said he had a good look at the shot but couldn't react in time as it bounced off the stick of Avs defenseman Brett Clark and slid underneath his legs and into the net.

"It hit the stick in front of me. If not, it's right in my chest," Theodore said.

Lupul said he hadn't scored four times in a game since junior hockey.

"He's making a name for himself, four goals," Avs forward Ian Laperriere said. "Good for him, I guess. Bad for us."

The Avalanche took a 2-1 lead on Jim Dowd's short-handed goal early in the third period, but Colorado was lax on defense and allowed Lupul to score his second and third goals less than two minutes apart.

Blake got caught pinching in on the blue line and Alex Tanguay's turnover led to a 2-on-1 breakaway and Lupul tied it with his second goal at 8:54. He gave Anaheim a 3-2 led at 10:40 with a slap shot from between the circles.

The deflated Avs fought back to tie it at 3 on Blake's slap shot at 13:35.

Bryzgalov allowed a goal for the first time in 249 minutes, 15 seconds when he gave up a goal late in the first period. The rookie goalie's streak is the second-longest in NHL playoff history, trailing only George Hainsworth's 270:08, set in 1930 for Montreal.

After posting three straight shutouts, including two against the Avalanche in Anaheim, Bryzgalov finally gave up a goal when Dan Hinote tapped the puck past him with 26 seconds left in the first period, giving Colorado a 1-0 lead.

The Avs wanted to put more bodies in front of Bryzgalov and they did.

"They put a lot more traffic. Sometimes I saw three or four players in front of me. It was tougher for me to see the puck," said Bryzgalov, who made 26 saves.

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