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Forsberg, Sakic power Avalanche past Wild

4/15/2003

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota's fans waited 11 years for the
NHL playoffs to return, but the Colorado Avalanche quickly deflated
them and their team.

In the first postseason game in the Twin Cities since 1992, Alex
Tanguay's early first-period goal got Colorado going, and a stellar
Patrick Roy did the rest for a 3-0 victory over the Wild on Monday
night.

That gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven
Western Conference quarterfinal series. Game 4, also in St. Paul,
is Wednesday night. The series shifts back to Denver for Game 5 on
Saturday afternoon.

"Obviously we had to weather the storm early and be ready to
play,'' said Avalanche coach Tony Granato. "This is a phenomenal
hockey town, and we knew they'd come out extremely enthused.''

Peter Forsberg had a goal and an assist, and Joe Sakic also
scored for Colorado, which got stifling defense around the crease
and 18 saves from Roy.

"Patrick was Patrick,'' Granato said.

The Wild were in Colorado's zone in this one much more than
Games 1 and 2, and coach Jacques Lemaire was more than pleased with
the effort after a flat one at Monday morning's skatearound.

"This is as good as we can play,'' Lemaire said. "We want to
make it as close as possible, and if we can get some breaks and
steal a win, we'll go from there.''

The last time this state hosted an NHL postseason game was April
28, 1992, when the North Stars lost to Detroit in Game 6 of a
Campbell Conference first-round series. An overflow crowd of 19,534
-- the largest to ever watch a hockey game in Minnesota -- had the
place roaring as the skaters took the ice on top of a giant
projection show portraying newspaper clippings from the franchise's
first three seasons, and action shots of each Wild player.

But the Avalanche, patiently and methodically, ruined the party.

"We didn't do anything fancy,'' Granato said. "We didn't get
caught up in all the excitement. We just used the energy and
enthusiasm in the building the right way.''

The Wild's power play went 0-for-6, looking rushed and almost
desperate at times. Colorado's was quite a contrast.

With 12:05 left in the game and the Avalanche a man to the good,
Forsberg -- the league's highest scorer with 106 points -- got his
first goal of the series. He took a puck deep out of the corner,
faking a pass and stuffing it past goalie Dwayne Roloson to make it
3-0.

Roy, who has won four Stanley Cups, was at his best in the
second period, when the Wild outshot the Avs 8-1 over the first
two-thirds of the session. He knocked away a shot by Wes Walz with
his fist, then spun completely around and denied another shot by
Antti Laaksonen with his stick.

"I just didn't want to quit,'' Roy said.

On a Wild power play with eight minutes left, Roy stopped two
slap shots, and Colorado's stingy defense, led by Rob Blake and
Adam Foote, cleared all the loose pucks out of danger.

The big blow to Minnesota came with 6:02 remaining in the second
period, when Richard Park swung and missed at the blue line as he
tried to intercept a pass from Foote.

Sakic took it, set up between the circles and fired a shot past
Roloson to put Colorado up 2-0.

"It was a big lift, because they had momentum and that just
kind of killed it for a little while,'' Tanguay said. "There was a
period for five minutes where we kind of sat around and let the
fans get back into it.''

Late in the game, Marian Gaborik summed up Minnesota's
misfortunes when he whiffed on a shot right in front of the net
after a perfect centering pass from Cliff Ronning.

"Everybody was excited, and everybody got chills when they
jumped on the ice,'' Gaborik said. "We tried to battle back, but
it just didn't happen.''

The Avalanche were able to sedate the buzzing arena by scoring
3:33 into the opening period when the second of Tanguay's two
close-range shots slid between Wild defenseman Willie Mitchell's
skates with Roloson out of position.

"It was important to try to get one as quick as you can, and
take away their crowd.'' Roy said.

Game notes
Roloson made 15 saves. ... Former Detroit coach Scotty
Bowman, a special consultant for the Red Wings, was at the game to
scout both teams as potential second-round opponents. ... U.S. Sen.
Norm Coleman, who helped get the Xcel Energy Center built when he
was mayor of St. Paul, led the "Let's Play Hockey'' chant before
the opening faceoff. ... The sight of University of Minnesota coach
Don Lucia and his two sons on the scoreboard lured fans into a
rendition of the Minnesota Rouser, the school's fight song. The
Gophers won their second consecutive national title on Saturday.
... Colorado went 21-10-5-5 on the road during the regular season,
the league's sixth-best mark.