<
>

Wild sidestep elimination for fifth time this postseason

5/8/2003

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Wild won't go away, or stop
scoring.

Andrew Brunette's two goals led another unlikely outburst by the
Wild, who sidestepped elimination for the fifth time this
postseason with a 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on
Wednesday night.

"We're a resilient bunch," Brunette said.

The Western Conference semifinal series is tied at 3, with a
deciding Game 7 set for Thursday in Vancouver.

The winner will face the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the West
finals. Both the Canucks and Wild rallied from 3-1 deficits in the
first round.

"I like the fact we've been through it once," Canucks coach
Marc Crawford said of Game 7. "We have to play a full 60 minutes.
Our guys are ready to do that. Better we made a mistake tonight and
not tomorrow night."

Dwayne Roloson made 30 saves for Minnesota, who also got goals
from Darby Hendrickson, Antti Laaksonen and seldom-used Lubomir
Sekeras. Cliff Ronning had three assists, and Marian Gaborik added
two as the Wild went 3-for-5 on the power play.

The Wild, who've scored 12 goals the last two games, are an
NHL-leading 14-for-55 (25.5 percent) on the man advantage during
the postseason.

These rivals have played a very physical series, but the Canucks
didn't get away with any rough stuff on Wednesday. They took eight
penalties.

"They deserve it," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We look
at tapes, too. I know a lot of times we do complain, but when we
complain we have something to back it up.

"It's a team that plays aggressively. Maybe they don't respect
the power play that much. I don't know what they think."

Crawford was pleased with the effort but not the result.

"The penalties got us in trouble," he said. "We just have to
be more determined to kill them off."

Minnesota was a surprise qualifier for the playoffs in its third
season. The Wild became just the fourth team in NHL history to win
five elimination games in one postseason.

No team has ever overcome two 3-1 series deficits in the same
postseason. The Wild trailed Colorado by that number in the first
round before winning three straight -- two in Denver.

"If you asked us at the beginning of the series if we could
play one game versus Vancouver, winner takes all," Brunette said,
"certainly we'd take it."

Hendrickson, Laaksonen and Brunette scored in a third period
that turned ugly toward the end. Eight of the game's 15 penalties
were called in the final frame.

Ed Jovanovski scored his seventh goal of the playoffs for the
Canucks, who have not lost three straight all season.

"You might as well throw the other six games out now,"
Jovanovski said.

Canucks goalie Dan Cloutier, pulled after giving up six goals in
two periods on Monday, fell apart in the final period amid
thundering chants of "Sieve! Sieve! Sieve!" from the overflow
crowd of 19,350.

Neither team made their goalie available for comment.

"Danny's fine,'' teammate Todd Bertuzzi said. "Danny's a
strong individual. He's one of the reason's why we're in the
situation that we're in. He's a very confident goalie."

That said, there has to be some doubts creeping in for the
Canucks.

"I'm not really worried about them," Brunette said. "We feel
good about ourselves, if we do what we need to do. If we run around
like we did tonight in the first period, we're not going to do
well."

The Canucks, admittedly embarrassed by their effort and the
outcome of Monday's 7-2 home loss in Game 5, completely controlled
the first period and outshot the Wild 12-4.

Vancouver's defense, led by Brent Sopel, Mattias Ohlund and
Jovanovski, blocked dozens of shots and kept Minnesota from getting
any quality scoring chances or finding any offensive flow.

Roloson -- 4-4 in the postseason -- was sharp, though, and the
Wild looked like a new team in the next period. They didn't quite
match the franchise-record five goals they scored in the second
period on Monday, but they came close.

With nine seconds left on a power play, Cloutier knocked
Gaborik's shot away _ right to Brunette, who didn't get a clean
shot off as he fell forward. It still went in, giving Minnesota the
lead.

Trevor Linden was whistled for high-sticking later in the
period, and Sekeras sent a blistering slap shot high over a
screened Cloutier's shoulder with five seconds remaining on the man
advantage to make it 2-0.

The Canucks' high-scoring top line of Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund
and Brendan Morrison continued its quiet series. Yet they remained
confident.

"I still believe that if we play the way we're supposed to,
that we're going to beat them," Naslund said.

Game notes
Gaborik leads the league with 17 playoff points. ... The
other three teams who have won five or more elimination games in
one postseason: the New York Islanders in 1975 and 1987 and
Vancouver in 1994. ... Canucks D Sami Salo was scratched with
flulike symptoms. ... Laaksonen returned after being a healthy
scratch the previous two games. He played every game in franchise
history before that. ... Sekeras, scratched 18 times during the
regular season, had only eight shots on goal in the first 12
postseason games.

Comments