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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Avalanche Freeze Panthers' Flurries in Game 3

MIAMI -- The Colorado Avalanche are one victory from a Stanley Cup finals sweep.


They won 3-2 Saturday night, staying cool in Game 3 as Florida stormed the net in the first period and screaming fans showered the ice with plastic rats after Panthers goals. The Avalanche regained the momentum -- and the lead -- after allowing 14 straight shots in the opening period and scoring twice in the first three minutes of the second period. They never trailed again.


"One of the reasons we've had success is they haven't looked past a challenge," Colorado coach Marc Crawford said. "The next challenge is to finish off the series."


Only one team -- the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs -- has come back from a 3-0 deficit in the finals since the best-of-seven format was adopted in 1939. And the last time two straight finals ended in sweeps was in 1982 and 1983, when the New York Islanders won two Cups.


Claude Lemieux was the MVP of last year's finals, won by New Jersey in a sweep of Detroit. He gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead Saturday night 2:44 into the game on his first shot since serving a two-game suspension for a vicious hit on Detroit's Kris Draper.


But goals by Ray Sheppard and Rob Niedermayer 2:05 apart gave Florida its first lead since the opening period of Game 1 as it showed signs of renewed life after Game 2's 8-1 embarrassment.


"They had us on our heels in the first period," Crawford said. "Once we got going in the second period and started doing simple things effectively that changed the complexion of the second period."


"Colorado's defense in the second and third period was outstanding," Florida coach Doug MacLean said.


The 2-1 lead after one period had to be disappointing for the Panthers, considering their return home for Game 3 and their 16-6 advantage in shots. That lead quickly disappeared as Mike Keane scored 1:38 into the second period and Joe Sakic connected at 3:00 to give the Avalanche a 3-2 lead.


Colorado goalie Patrick Roy played up to his reputation as a magnificent play-off goalie. He stopped 27 shots in the first two periods when his team was outshot 28-16. Roy won two Stanley Cups with Montreal, which traded him to the Avalanche last Dec. 6. He has won seven straight finals games, three short of the record held by another former Montreal goalie, Ken Dryden.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)