June 4 will always be a special day in Avalanche lore. It marks the anniversary of the first time the Avs took the ice in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Avs were in their first season in Colorado and scheduled to play the Florida Panthers, who were just in their third season of existence. The Avs, loaded with talent, were big-time favorites entering the series after taking care of the Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings on their path to the Cup.
Game 1 took place at McNichols Sports Arena in front of a sold out crowd of more than 16,000 fans on June 4, 1996.
The game got off to a bit of a rocky start with both teams trying to figure each other out for most of the period. With less than four minutes before intermission, Tom Fitzgerald put one past Patrick Roy to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Florida out shot the Avs 12-6 in the first period, and seemed to have all the momentum heading into the locker room.
The second period is where the fireworks began for Colorado. About halfway through the period Scott Young was finally able to put the Avs on the board, scoring what would be his only goal of the Stanley Cup Finals. Adam Deadmarsh and Sylvain Lefebvre both were credited with assists. Less than two minutes later, Mike Ricci put the Avs on top, with what turned out to be the game-winning goal assisted by Mike Keane and Sandis Ozolinsh. Exactly two minutes after that, Uwe Krupp put the nail in the coffin putting the Avs up 3-1 on a goal assisted by Peter Forsberg and Valeri Kamensky.
There were no goals in the third period as the Avs held on to the 3-1 victory. Patrick Roy ended the game with 25 saves.
The Avs would go on to sweep the series, winning their first Cup in franchise history. June 4 will always be a day to remember, and a reminder of the greatness of what their team can become once again.