Welcome back to Last Word on Hockey’s summer series where we look at the biggest game in team history. Each day we will be back with a new team to look at. Looking at things like the lead-up, what happened, followed, and why it makes it the biggest game. The biggest game does not automatically mean a win, either. Sometimes, it can be a loss that set the franchise back massively. Sit back and enjoy as we break down all 31 teams’ most important game. In this article, we will discuss the Colorado Avalanche biggest game in franchise history. The full series is found here.
Colorado Avalanche Biggest Game in Franchise History
The Colorado Avalanche of the late 1990s and early 2000’s were one of the most dominant teams in the NHL. They made the playoffs every year between 1994-95 (their last year as the Quebec Nordiques) and 2005-06. Players like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, and Patrick Roy were among the league’s most dominant. The Avs won Stanley Cups in 1995-96 and 2000-01 during that stretch. The team’s second Cup is notable because it brought fans of veteran Ray Bourque great joy in his final season before retirement.
Leading Up to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final
The 2000-01 Stanley Cup Finals featured a battle between the Avalanche and New Jersey Devils. While Colorado won the league’s President’s Trophy with 118 points, New Jersey was not far behind at 111. The Devils’ scoring duo of Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora with Martin Brodeur in the net had actually propelled the team to a 3-2 lead before dropping Game 6 in New Jersey. That missed opportunity pushed the series’ final game back to Colorado.
The Avs won Game 1 5-0, but the two teams would alternate wins until New Jersey won both Games 4 and 5 to open up a 3-1 series lead. Game 6 in New Jersey saw Colorado take no chances on the road. The team gave a complete effort and shut-out the Devils 4-0 thanks, in part, to three big points from Adam Foote and the last of Chris Drury‘s 11 playoff goals.
Everyone was on pins and needles for Game 7 because it was not only the last game of the year, but it would also decide whether or not Ray Bourque would finally win a Stanley Cup after 22 years of effort. Two decades with the Boston Bruins had failed to produce the desired result and he was ultimately traded late in the 1999-00 season to Colorado. What made things even tougher was New Jersey’s status as the defending champs from the previous season.
Colorado Avalanche Biggest Game
June 9th, 2001, Stanley Cup Final Game 7
Game 7 started out quietly enough. New Jersey had a minor penalty early that was killed off. It wasn’t until almost eight minutes into the game that Alex Tanguay broke through against Brodeur and the Devils. #13 Dan Hinote sped into the New Jersey zone and managed to get the puck to Tanguay who circled behind Brodeur, spun and fired the puck up high over the netminder’s shoulder for the first point of the game.
The second period was really where things broke open. It was Tanguay again not quite five minutes into the second frame. Colorado started by winning a faceoff in the defensive zone that bounced around and out to a streaking Sakic. Brodeur made the initial save but gave up a rebound to Tanguay on the other side for a wide-open shot and #40’s second goal of the game. A high stick penalty from Sean O’Donnell put Colorado on the power play just a minute later. Sakic faked a slap shot from the right side and then sniped Brodeur up high to give the team a 3-0 lead.
Sykora would get one goal back for New Jersey, but it wasn’t enough. Roy would post a scoreless third period to defeat the defending champs. Captain Sakic would immediately hand Bourque the Stanley Cup in one of the most iconic images in all of sports.
Bourque would announce his retirement on June 26th on the highest of notes. The defenceman ended his career as one of the best ever at his position and is still 11th in career points. He forever remains a part of one of the great Finals in league history.
Colorado would make the Western Conference Playoffs for the next four years but would never return to the Stanley Cup Finals. Stars like Roy and Sakic remained productive before retiring over the next few seasons. Colorado is only now returning to prominence after spending much of the period between 2006-07 to the present day watching the playoffs at home.
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