for this game

Avalanche roll past Wild, even series

Apr 16, 2008 - 7:12 AM
DENVER (Ticker) -- The Colorado Avalanche obviously did not want to go to overtime a fourth straight time.

Tyler Arnason and defenseman Ruslan Salei each had a goal and an assist as the Avalanche evened their best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series with the Minnesota Wild at two games apiece Tuesday with a dominant 5-1 victory in Game Four.

Andrew Brunette, Wojtek Wolski and Milan Hejduk also scored for Colorado, which snapped a four-game home losing streak in the postseason.

Defenseman Jordan Leopold notched a pair of assists and Jose Theodore made 24 saves for the Avalanche, who went 2-for-13 on the power play.

"I was just trying to stay focused because even though you are up 3- or 4-0, we know how quick a turnaround can happen," Theodore said. "A couple of shots and it's 4-2. You have to be really focused."

"He's superb," Colorado's Ryan Smyth said of Theodore. "Obviously key saves at the right time. Those sort of things make a difference in hockey games, when the goaltender stands up."

Mikko Koivu netted the long goal for Minnesota, which hosts Game Five on Thursday.

"We don't feel good about losing 5-1, but we do feel good that we got (a win here)," Wild right wing Brian Rolston said. "That's a heck of a team over there, and it was just one of those things that kind of snowballed. But it's 2-2 going back to our place, and we'll take it."

After opening the series with a 3-2 overtime win, Colorado suffered identical losses in the extra session in Games Two and Three. Dating to the 2003 conference quarterfinals, each of the five postseason games between the teams prior to Tuesday had been decided in overtime.

In this one, 60 minutes was all the Avalanche needed as they erupted for three goals in the first period and two more in the second to take control.

"We had a great start and pucks went in for us," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was a good night and a great response to a tough ending (on Monday). We had a real good pace from the drop of the puck. All four of our lines were giving us energy."

A member of the Wild when they rallied from a three-games-to-one deficit against the Avalanche in that 2003 quarterfinal series, Brunette got things started for Colorado at 4:01 of the first. Salei threw the puck toward the net from above the left faceoff circle, and Brunette deflected it over goaltender Niklas Backstrom's right shoulder.

The Avalanche have scored first in each game of the series.

Wolski doubled the lead 96 seconds later, grabbing a loose puck in the right circle and wristing it past the stick side of Backstrom for his second career playoff goal.

"I think it was real important," Brunette said of getting the early lead. "I think our youth, in Cody McLeod and David Jones, came out and gave us a lot of energy. Wolski too. The young legs came and played, and they played real hard and changed the momentum."

Arnason made it 3-0 at 11:08 with the first postseason tally of his career. After a turnover just outside of the offensive zone, Arnason gained control and skated over the blue line before beating Backstrom to the glove side with a blast.

Colorado took advantage of Minnesota's undisciplined play in the second to expand the lead.

At 7:42, Salei drilled a shot from the left point past Backstrom with Smyth setting a screen in front for a power-play goal. Hejduk cashed in on another man advantage with 3:46 remaining, converting a cross-slot pass from Smyth after a turnover near the blue line to make it 5-0.

"It's a good feeling right now," Smyth said of the win. "It's a tight-checking series. It's just a matter of us playing simple and playing basic hockey."

Captain Joe Sakic also picked up an assist on Hejduk's goal. It was his 183rd career playoff point, moving him within one of Hall of Fame Bryan Trottier for ninth place on the all-time list.

Overall, the Wild collected 101 minutes in penalties on 25 infractions.

"They were more disciplined tonight," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We'll try to meet with (the players on Wednesday) and try to get back on the right track."

Backstrom allowed all five goals on 29 shots through two periods before being replaced by Josh Harding, who turned aside all 11 shots he faced in the third.

Entering the series with one goal in five previous playoff games, Koivu spoiled Theodore's shutout bid while shorthanded at 3:11 of the third with his fourth tally this postseason.

"We just need to forget this one and get the next one," said Koivu, who had scored in each game of the series to match the longest playoff streak in franchise history set in 2003 by Marian Gaborik.

"We've got to work harder to get more chances," added Gaborik, who has yet to record a point in the series. "I need to find some openings and shoot more."

With the game becoming lopsided, the Wild played a chippy second half. Stephane Veilleux collected 25 minutes in penalties and was one of five Minnesota players to receive a 10-minute misconduct after Colorado built a 4-0 lead.

"That's what is just going to happen," said Avalanche center Peter Forsberg, who did not take a shift in the third period. "They have a few guys - not only one or two, they've got three, four or five guys - that's pretty big and physical out there."

"When you see one of the two teams take a lead like that, you expect that," Colorado's Ian Laperriere added. "We were expecting that. It's not something that came out of nowhere. If we were in their shoes, we'd do the same thing."

Laperriere was involved in a fight with Veilleux after the Wild left wing delivered a questionable check on Paul Stastny.

"If it's not trying to hurt someone, it's close," Laperriere said. "We don't want to see that in our game. Sometimes you get too emotional. I know the guy, he's a good kid and he wants to do good for his team, but sometimes there's a fine line between playing hard and trying to hurt someone.

"I respect the guy a lot. He plays hard and he knows he has to back it up, and he did. I have a lot more respect for him."








  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MINNESOTA 0 0 1 1
    COLORADO 3 2 0 5 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: COL - ANDREW BRUNETTE 2 (RUSLAN SALEI, JORDAN LEOPOLD) 4:02
    COL - WOJTEK WOLSKI 1 (IAN LAPERRIERE) 5:37
    COL - TYLER ARNASON 1 (UNASSISTED) 11:08
    2ND PRD: COL - (PP) RUSLAN SALEI 1 (TYLER ARNASON, JORDAN LEO

    Apr 16 12:54 AM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MINNESOTA 1
    COLORADO 5
    3RD PRD: MIN - (SH) MIKKO KOIVU 4 (KEITH CARNEY, BRIAN ROLSTON) 3:11

    Wild 1, Avalanche 5  3rd - 16:49Apr 16 12:17 AM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MINNESOTA 0 0 0
    COLORADO 3 2 5 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: COL - ANDREW BRUNETTE 2 (RUSLAN SALEI, JORDAN LEOPOLD) 4:02
    COL - WOJTEK WOLSKI 1 (IAN LAPERRIERE) 5:37
    COL - TYLER ARNASON 1 (UNASSISTED) 11:08
    2ND PRD: COL - (PP) RUSLAN SALEI 1 (TYLER ARNASO

    Apr 15 11:51 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MINNESOTA 0
    COLORADO 5
    2ND PRD: COL - (PP) MILAN HEJDUK 2 (RYAN SMYTH, JOE SAKIC) 16:14

    Wild 0, Avalanche 5  2nd - 3:46Apr 15 11:43 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MINNESOTA 0
    COLORADO 4
    2ND PRD: COL - (PP) RUSLAN SALEI 1 (TYLER ARNASON, JORDAN LEOPOLD)
    7:42

    Wild 0, Avalanche 4  2nd - 12:18Apr 15 11:22 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MINNESOTA 0 0
    COLORADO 3 3 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: COL - ANDREW BRUNETTE 2 (RUSLAN SALEI, JORDAN LEOPOLD) 4:02
    COL - WOJTEK WOLSKI 1 (UNASSISTED) 5:37
    COL - TYLER ARNASON 1 (UNASSISTED) 11:08
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- ---

    Apr 15 10:49 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MINNESOTA 0
    COLORADO 3
    1ST PRD: COL - TYLER ARNASON 1 (UNASSISTED) 11:08

    Wild 0, Avalanche 3  1st - 8:52Apr 15 10:34 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MINNESOTA 0
    COLORADO 2
    1ST PRD: COL - WOJTEK WOLSKI 1 (UNASSISTED) 5:37

    Wild 0, Avalanche 2  1st - 14:23Apr 15 10:22 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MINNESOTA 0
    COLORADO 1
    1ST PRD: COL - ANDREW BRUNETTE 2 (RUSLAN SALEI, JORDAN LEOPOLD) 4:02

    Wild 0, Avalanche 1  1st - 15:58Apr 15 10:19 PM
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