May 31, 2002 is one of the most legendary moments in Detroit Red Wings history.
The Red Wings were in a tight Western Conference Final series against their arch rivals the Colorado Avalanche. Game 7 promised to be a fierce chess match between Steve Yzerman’s stacked Red Wings team and Joe Sakic’s Avalanche who had already played, and won, two Game 7s that spring against the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.
Detroit was the team of destiny that year, having loaded its roster with even more Hall of Fame talent with the likes of Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Dominik Hasek. The Avalanche were threatening their run to a Stanley Cup that everyone agreed was Detroit’s to lose since the start of that season.
Game 7 was sure to be a real nail biter for both fanbases.
But it wasn’t. Instead, one of the most extraordinary events took place nearly immediately after puck drop. Tomas Holmstrom opened the scoring 1:57 into the 1st period, then Sergei Fedorov made it 2-0 with a blast from down the wing. It’s one of my favorite moments of that Red Wings era:
The flood gates were opened, and Avs goalie Patrick Roy looked stunned. The Red Wings were up 4-0 by the end of the 1st period. They never looked back, potting two more pucks behind Roy before he was pulled in the 2nd period. The game ended 7-0. Hasek was credited the shutout with just 19 saves.
The Red Wings went on to win their 3rd Stanley Cup championship in six years.
This game is considered perhaps the final “great” moment between these rivals. It was the last time they both met in the playoffs during their perennial contender years.