DENVER — There were more plot lines at the Pepsi Center than at a multiplex theater Thursday night.
A need to win and close the gap on Vancouver. A need to get through a game laced with emotion, anger and expectations.
A need to just get to this morning.
The Colorado Avalanche was juggling all that, but for
40 minutes, it handled it with perfection. While the crowd booing Todd Bertuzzi’s every move, the Avs sliced up the Canucks. They scored six
goals in the first 34 minutes, 2 seconds of the game and beat Vancouver, 6-2, to even up their 2005-06 rivalry.
“We’re 1-1 in the season series,” Colorado forward Brad May said. “There was a lot of emotion. Sometimes when it gets like that, you get over the apex of your emotions.”
The fans showed disdain for Bertuzzi, but it has been tough for May, too. He was the one who said there was a bounty on Steve Moore’s head 20 months ago when he played for Vancouver, and he has felt the backlash of that from his new home crowd.
Slowly, he has turned the fans’ boos to cheers with some timely hits. Bertuzzi’s arrival didn’t hurt his cause, either, because the Vancouver forward was the one who pile-drove Moore’s head into the ice March 8, 2004, and is the major culprit in this tragic drama.
Nothing that egregious happened Thursday, but things almost got ugly during Colorado’s three-goal burst in the second period, which turned a 3-1 game into a rout. Vancouver’s Wade Brookbank took a roughing penalty and a 10-minute misconduct penalty after he punched Ian Laperriere in the jaw with 7:55 left in the period.
That gave the Avs their sixth power play of the night, and 50 seconds later, Mattias Ohlund drew a crosschecking penalty to put Colorado on a 5-on-3 power play.
Pierre Turgeon scored to make it 6-1 with 3 seconds left on the two-man advantage when he banked a shot off the back of goalie Alex Auld. It was his second goal of the night and the 499th of his career.
“It’s a tough play, even when it’s 5-on-3,” Turgeon said. “Sometimes you don’t want to do it, but being in that situation, I had enough room and I had confidence to do it.
“I figured with 498 goals already, I had a right to try it.”
The Avs’ five-goal lead was a turnaround from their game in Vancouver on Saturday, when the Canucks took a 5-1 lead in the third period and held on to win, 6-4.
After getting that five-goal lead, the Avs concentrated on keeping it instead of adding to it. They held 30-19 edge in shots after two periods but finished the game on the business end of that stat, 42-30. The only thing separating them from a collapse was goalie David Aebischer, who made 23 saves in the third.
“I got a workout in the third period, that’s for sure,” he said. “We played unbelievable for the first two periods, and in the third period, we slacked off a little bit. It’s 6-1, but still it shouldn’t happen. The first 40 minutes, that’s the best we’ve played all season.”
The last 20 minutes won’t make the 2004-05 highlight reel.
“If Aebi’s not there, they might have come back,” Laperriere said.
Laperriere helped the Avs pull away with his third goal of the season after Joe Sakic and Steve Konowalchuk got the first two. It gave Colorado a 3-1 lead with 7:28 left in the first period, and he let his excitement bubble over with an unusually boisterous celebration.
He, like the crowd, was caught up in the moment.
“I got too much butter on my toast when I scored that goal,” said Laperriere, who took a puck off of his left shin but stayed in the game. “I don’t score that often. It was great to feel the crowd in a big game like that. It’s a playoff atmosphere.”