Minnesota won 4-3 (Game 3 of 7)

Minnesota won 4-3

Game 1: Thursday, April 10th
Game 2: Saturday, April 12th
Game 3: Monday, April 14th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 16th
Game 5: Saturday, April 19th
Game 6: Monday, April 21st
Game 7: Tuesday, April 22nd

7:30 PM ET, April 14, 2003

Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota

1 2 3 T
COL 1 1 13
MIN 0 0 00

P. Forsberg (Avalanche - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

W. Walz (Wild - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

J. Sakic (Avalanche - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Forsberg, Sakic power Avalanche past Wild

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press