DENVER (AP) -- The Minnesota Wild played up the underdog role all
week, talking about how their playoff series with the Colorado
Avalanche was a mismatch.
Coach Jacques Lemaire even joked that his players might have to
untie Colorado's skates just to have a chance.
The ploy worked.
Dwayne Roloson stopped 39 shots, and Minnesota scored three
goals in 4:22 in the second period as the Wild knocked off Colorado
4-2 Thursday night in the first game of the series.
"It is huge. There is no doubt," Lemaire said. "Before the
series we felt it would be nice to get one game, it would be nice
just to get the feel of winning in the playoffs."
Minnesota was a third-year team making its first playoff
appearance. Colorado had won two Stanley Cup titles in seven years
and a record nine straight division championships.
The mismatch on paper carried over into the game, with Colorado
peppering Roloson with 11 shots in the first 6½ minutes and
outshooting Minnesota 18-3 overall.
The Wild somehow survived the period with a scoreless tie, then
stunned the Avalanche with three quick goals in the second.
"Normally when you play like that in the first period you will
have the lead," Avalanche coach Tony Granato said.
Filip Kuba scored the first postseason goal in Wild history 5:33
into the period, one-timing a pass from Andrew Brunette on a power
play. Kuba lifted the shot just over Patrick Roy's glove after
Brunette skated in from the left and sent a pass through the
Marian Gaborik made it 2-0 3:55 later on another power play,
knocking rebound between Roy's legs and off his right skate.
A frustrated Roy looked at his glove after the goal, then skated
to the corner for a few seconds.
"I just thought the bounces weren't there," said Roy, who
faced 27 shots. "This is a night where I could say 'I could have
easily left the building with one goal against me.'"
Joe Sakic gave Colorado a chance heading into the third,
one-timing a pass from Steven Reinprecht with 6:38 left in the
But mounting a comeback against the league's best team at
protecting a lead proved to be too much.
Roloson was solid down the stretch, and Brunette sent some fans
toward the exits with a goal from a tough angle with four minutes
left in the game.
A few turned back after Milan Hejduk weaved his way through
Minnesota's defense for a goal with 2:59 left. But the Avalanche
spent more time trying to prevent an empty-net goal than generating
scoring chances after that.
Minnesota improved to 31-0-1 this season when leading after two
"It's tough to be down 3-0 to a team that's going to sit
back," Peter Forsberg said. "We just have to make sure we get the
lead next game and play better."
Minnesota went into the series hoping to take Forsberg out of
his game by knocking him around. The Wild did just that every
chance they got.
Walz left Forsberg kneeling and holding his nose after a
collision in the second period, and another check late in the
period lifted him off the ice. Diminutive Cliff Ronning even took a
shot at Forsberg shortly after jumping over the boards early in the
Forsberg, the league's leading scorer with 106 points in the
regular season, didn't figure in either Colorado goals.
"We tried to eliminate their top lines," Gaborik said. "We
just tried to focus on our game and be disciplined and work hard.
It worked out pretty good."
Roloson was making just his fifth career playoff start, but it
He opened the game by stopping a wraparound by Bates Battaglia
in the first minute, then made a diving glove save on a rebound by
Sakic a few seconds later.
Roloson also had a tough kick save early in the third and later
made a diving stop after fumbling the puck behind his goal.
He even made a save with his backside, sitting on the puck after
a shot by Serge Aubin stopped next to the left goalpost in the
"He made the saves early and kept them in the game," Granato
said. "That was the key to the game."
Colorado C Riku Hahl was a scratch due to flu-like
symptoms. ... Colorado D Martin Skoula was back after missing the
season finale with a bruised shoulder. ... Minnesota D Andrei
Zyuzin lay on the ice in pain after a shot by Colorado's Bryan
Marchment hit him on the right side in the third period. Zyuzin,
who dived to block the shot, went straight to the locker room. ...
Colorado lost to Minnesota at home for the first time (12-1).