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Tuesday, April 8

Updated: April 8, 4:27 PM ET

Roloson gets starting nod over Fernandez

Associated Press

ST. PAUL -- After weeks of speculation, Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said Tuesday that goaltender Dwayne Roloson will start Game 1 of the Wild's first-round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche.

"Roly will start and we'll see after that,'' said Lemaire, who didn't offer any more insight on what led him to choose Roloson over Manny Fernandez.

Both goalies had excellent seasons for the third-year Wild, who make their first-ever playoff appearance Thursday night against the Avs. Roloson played 50 games and went 23-16-8 with four shutouts and a .927 save percentage. Fernandez, who missed 10 games with an injured knee, went 19-13-2 with two shutout and a career-high .924 save percentage in 34 games.

The two combined for a 2.14 goals-against-average -- fourth-best in the NHL.

How well Roloson does will determine whether Lemaire starts him again for Game 2.

"I'm pretty excited but I can't get too excited because the next thing you know, the puck will be in the net,'' said Roloson, who signed a three-year extension worth a reported $2 million last month.

Fernandez wasn't available for comment, but seemed loose and in good spirits during Tuesday's intense practice.

Roloson said he and Fernandez, whose stalls are side by side in the Wild dressing room, have had no problems sharing the No. 1 goalie spot.

"We've been doing it for the last two years,'' he said.

Roloson had his breakout season last year for the Wild while Fernandez, who shined in Minnesota's inaugural year, went through a horrible slump. But a refreshed Fernandez showed up in training camp and immediately turned in impressive performances.

"I don't think they'd sit there and say it, but I think they're both competitive and they both want to play and they both maybe want to one-up the other,'' defenseman Willie Mitchell said. "They're happy for each other when they have success.''

Lemaire had said he would wait until Minnesota knew which team it would face in the playoffs before deciding which goalie to use. Neither has a stellar record against Colorado, but Roloson has fared a little better.

Roloson started two games against the Avs, earning ties in both of them. In the first game against Colorado he stopped 45 of 47 shots. Fernandez went 1-2 against Colorado, winning 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 29 in St. Paul.

"They're really an incredible team,'' Roloson said. "They're probably the best team coming into the playoffs right now.''

With Patrick Roy, one of the game's great goalies, in the net for Colorado, the Wild don't expect many scoring chances. That means both Roloson and Fernandez can't afford to have a bad night.

But Roloson said he doesn't view the game as a matchup between himself and Roy.

"If I start worrying about what he's doing, it's going to affect me,'' he said. "So I've just got to go out and play the game that I've been playing all year.''

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