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Greatest Games: Colorado Avalanche – Ray Finally Gets His Day

After waiting 22 years to get his hands on the Stanley Cup, Bourque did so in his final NHL game.

No. 1 – June 9, 2001 – Colorado 3, New Jersey 1

There have only been a few nights in NHL history like the one on which Raymond Bourque called it a career, with the Stanley Cup being passed to him by Avalanche captain Joe Sakic in a triumphant moment for fans in Colorado, Boston and everyone in North America outside New Jersey.

With an opportunity to win Colorado’s first major sports championship at home, the Avs claimed their second Cup by beating the Devils 3-1 in a near-flawless Game 7 performance. Alex Tanguay was in on all three of the Avs’ goals, scoring twice and adding an assist, while Patrick Roy made 25 saves and Bourque logged 29:35 of ice time, second on the team behind Adam Foote’s 29:44.

Not long after Bourque, the legendary former Bruin, raised the Cup after waiting 22 seasons to do so, Peter Forsberg got his chance after joining the team from the dressing room, where he watched the game in street clothes. Forsberg had emergency surgery to remove his spleen following Colorado’s second-round Game 7 triumph over the Los Angeles Kings.

The emotional combination of watching Bourque and Forsberg celebrate after their difficult journeys underscored the adversity the team went through. Five days before Game 7, the Avalanche lost Game 5 at home by a 4-1 score, giving the Devils a 3-2 series lead and the chance to win the Cup on home ice in Game 6. But Colorado came out and dominated Game 6, winning 4-0 to reverse the situation. As close as the series was in the first six games, the Avs pulled away from the Devils in Game 7 – a night filled with incredible energy and emotion in Colorado.

No. 2 – May 29, 1996 – Colorado 4, Detroit 1
Claude Lemieux’s notorious hit on Kris Draper ignites one of the NHL’s best rivalries during the Avs’ home-ice clincher to win the West in an upset.

No. 3 – April 7, 2018 – Colorado 5, St. Louis 2 
The Avs, comingoff an embarrassing 48-point season the year before, had to beat the Blues in regulation in Game 82 to sneak into the playoffs.

GREATEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE OF ALL-TIME

Patrick Roy
June 10, 1996 – Colorado 1, Florida 0 (3OT)
Roy, who was traded to Colorado from Montreal earlier in the season – the Avs’ first in Denver – was beyond outstanding in a Stanley Cup-clinching 1-0 win over Florida in Game 4 of the 1996 final, making 63 saves before defenseman Uwe Krupp scored on a shot from the blueline 4:31 into the third overtime.

Despite that clutch performance and an incredible playoff run (16-6, 2.10 GAA, .921 save percentage, three shutouts), Roy somehow failed to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. That honor went to Avs captain Joe Sakic, who scored 18 goals and 34 points in 22 playoff games.

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