DENVER (AP) _ So much for the home ice advantage the Colorado Avalanche played for all season. The Stanley Cup will be in New Jersey on Thursday night _ and it may not be leaving.
The New Jersey Devils, who won hockey's biggest prize on the road last season, moved within a victory of winning it again Monday night by beating the Avalanche on their own ice for the second straight time, a 4-1 victory secured by Alexander Mogilny's first goal in 15 games.
Sergei Brylin also ended a long streak with his first goal in 12 games and Patrick Elias, playing without injured A-Line center Jason Arnott, scored his second in as many games as New Jersey won for the third time in the last four games to seize a 3-2 series lead.
``There's no doubt that with a player (Arnott) of that magnitude out, you hope as a coach everybody else elevates their game to make up for loss of a great player,'' Devils coach Larry Robinson said. ``Sometimes it brings a team together and brings out best in other players.''
However, playing at home sometimes brings out the worst in the Devils. They're 5-1 on the road in the finals against Dallas and Colorado the last two years and 8-3 on the road in these playoffs, but are only 7-5 at home as they go back to the Meadowlands for Game 6 on Thursday night.
Last year, the Devils held a 3-1 lead and could have closed out Dallas at home, only to lose 1-0 in triple overtime. New Jersey bounced back to win the cup at Dallas in Game 6.
``We got one more to go, and it's going to be the toughest one,'' Devils forward Scott Gomez said.
This series of ever-shifting momentum may have swung when Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy abandoned the net in Game 4 and let in the tying goal just when Colorado seemed ready to take a 3-1 series lead. Roy's problem Monday was he was anchored in the net.
The Devils took advantage of Colorado's repeated attempts to force the offense after being limited to 12 shots in Game 4. However, the Avalanche not only couldn't get to goalie Martin Brodeur, who played his best game of the series with 22 saves, they often were trapped in the Devils' zone, creating a succession of odd-man breaks that led to the goals by Elias and Mogilny.
History certainly is on the Devils' side as they try to become the third team in the last 10 years to win consecutive cups, joining the 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins and 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings. Only three of the 16 teams that previously won Game 5 in a series tied 2-2 didn't win the cup, and it hasn't happened since 1971.
After losing to Dallas last two seasons on the road in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, the Avalanche made it a season-long goal to have home ice this time. However, they may not make it to Game 7 this time.
``We'll find out who wants to come out and play the next game,'' Colorado defenseman Greg de Vries said. ``We've got to want it more than they do.''
Now, Ray Bourque's Mission 16W _ his attempt to win his first Stanley Cup in 22 seasons _ may end at Exit 16W of the New Jersey Turnpike, where the Devils' arena is located. The 16W represented how many victories are needed to win the cup.
The Avalanche had scored the opening goal in three of the first four games, but the Devils got it this time with one of their five odd-man rushes in the first period _ more than they had in any previous game.
The `A' may have been missing from the Devils A-Line, but his linemates got the opening goal as Elias scored his second in as many games on a 2-on-1 break with Petr Sykora at 3:09 of the first.
Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote was caught between the two on the break, and Roy gambled Foote could break up the pass. But Foote couldn't and, with Roy shifted to his left, Elias flipped the puck in an open left side of the net for his ninth of the playoffs.
``You can't give guys like Mogilny and Elias 2-on-1s, because they're going to score every time they have those chances,'' Tanguay said.
With Arnott out with an apparent concussion, Robinson moved defensive forward Bobby Holik up to the Elias-Sykora line so Holik and defenseman Scott Stevens would always be on the ice against Joe Sakic's line. It worked, too, as Sakic had a quiet game, even though Colorado had 23 shots, 11 more than Saturday.
However, Holik was called for tripping Sakic in front of the net, and the Avalanche _ 0-for-5 on the power play in their 3-2 loss in Game 4 _ took advantage as Alex Tanguay powered a slap shot past Brodeur at 10:09 of the first on a sequence that started when Bourque broke up a 3-on-1 rush.
What proved the winning goal came on another rush after Colorado forward Chris Drury tried to force the puck to de Vries in a crowded neutral zone. Devils defenseman Brian Rafalski deflected it to Gomez, who made a drop pass that Mogilny wristed by Roy to the stick side from the right circle _ ending a 14-game streak without a goal.
Mogilny's fifth goal of the playoffs came at 18:47 and wrested away from Colorado the momentum generated by Tanguay's goal.
Brylin made it 3-1 at 15:21 of the second on a power play created by Rob Blake's interference penalty, perfectly deflecting a slap shot by Mogilny from the right circle. As Roy stood up to play Mogilny's shot, Brylin's deflection scooted underneath Roy's glove.
The first two-goal lead of the series for New Jersey, and Colorado's first two-goal deficit in these playoffs, allowed the Devils to settle in a neutral zone trap that the Avalanche had little success in attacking
John Madden added the Devils' fourth goal on another rush in the final minute.
Notes: Elias has 16 goals in the playoffs the last two seasons. ... John Elway watched from a private box. ... Brodeur has won seven of his last eight road playoff games. ... New Jersey has won the last 13 playoff road games in which it held a lead.