Helm Yeah: Colorado kills the curse, all the way to the conference final

Sometimes you have to befriend an enemy to end a curse.

Thirteen years ago to the day, Darren Helm sent the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup, ending an overtime streak.

“A pretty special day,” Helm said with a laugh and commenting that he couldn’t remember the anniversary.

On Friday, with five seconds left in Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues, Helm scored the game-winning goal for the Colorado Avalanche, ending the series.

“I watch it happen. I just want us to keep playing, and I don’t even know exactly where the clock is,” head coach Jared Bednar said. “I had a good feeling because time is running out. But when I saw the puck come out on that side of the ice, I looked over and saw Helm coming down on it.

“I was just like, ‘Just shoot, shoot, shoot,'” Bednar said. “I didn’t even know what time it was or how much time was left. And after seeing the net bulge, I looked up and saw the time and the bench is already partying, so I was kind of the last of the party there.

Helm was one of the last Avs to celebrate, joining that team in the offseason after 14 years playing for rival Red Wings. He admitted Friday that Colorado topped the list when he became a free agent last summer.

“I was just extremely excited to have this opportunity and very grateful to be here and it’s a great group of guys, a great team and really happy and lucky to be here.”

General manager Joe Sakic brought in Helm at the age of 35, which could trigger the club into the bottom six. Helm’s efforts ended a 20-year drought in the Stanley Cup Conference Finals that began while Sakic was still skating.

“He’s a guy who comes to the rink with a smile, gets along with everyone and leads by example,” said captain Gabriel Landeskog. “He’s been there a long time. I remember being a teenager back home in Sweden, watching him in those cup races with the Red Wings. It was a pleasure to play with him, and he is getting stronger tonight.

JT Compher also stepped up, scoring two goals in the game, the second of which tied the deal at 2-2 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third.

While Game 5 saw Colorado miss their chance to end the series, Game 6 saw the Blues miss their chance to extend the series again.

The Avs face Edmonton starting Tuesday, but it’s worth stopping and celebrating, at least for a night, after Round 2.

“We went through dark times together and tough times being way down the league. Our team has changed a lot over the past few years and we have improved as a team,” Landeskog said. “It’s rewarding to get over this hump, but at the same time we have a big goal in mind, and I feel like the best is ahead of us.”
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