Thirteen years ago, Darren Helm sent the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup Finals with an all-important game-winning goal. On Friday night, the veteran did it again, this time in the conference semifinals and in a Colorado Avalanche uniform.
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The 35-year-old forward broke a 2-2 deadlock with his first playoff goal since April 2016. The win with just six seconds left in regulation spelled the end for the St. Louis Blues, who been defeated in six matches.
“We had three guys going to the net, and I was following behind. The pass bounced off the boards, I just wanted to send the puck to the net, and it found a way to get in,” Helm told a press conference after the game.
“It was awesome. We believed in it all night long. We were trailing most of the time."
Helm is no stranger to those game-breaking goals. In 2009, he scored in overtime as the Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks in five games and reached the final. The Michigan representatives then lost against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This 13-year drought between these two decisive goals in the series is the second longest in history, behind that of 16 years of Adam Oates.
Finally the association final
The Avalanche had been eliminated in the second round for the past three seasons. No doubt this is a great relief for the players.
"It means a lot," Nathan MacKinnon said. I think we really had to enjoy this adventure. That's the most important thing when we come back to this course, and to have made it this far. There will soon be only four teams and obviously the work is not finished yet, but it is a great achievement for us.
“There were dark times. It's good to take the plunge, added the one who was simply spectacular with seven points in six games against the Blues. Looks like we dominated them the whole series. We had some tough times, but we played a good 60 minutes tonight [Friday].”
The next round will be another challenge for the "Avs", who will cross swords with the Edmonton Oilers. Their last confrontation in the playoffs dates back to 1998. Of course, hockey fans are already salivating at the idea of this showdown between MacKinnon and Connor McDavid.