m3657 BC-HKN-Wild-Avalanche 1stLd-Writethru 04-15 0686
Wild beat Avs 3-2 in overtime again, this time on Bouchard’s goal
Eds: Wild 3, Avalanche 2, OT. UPDATES.
AP Photo DXA104, DXA102, DXA107
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Sports Writer
DENVER (AP) — The Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche are so evenly matched that neither team can win in regulation.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard took the pass from Brian Rolston from behind the net and sent it past Jose Theodore 11:58 into overtime to give the Wild a 3-2 win over the Avalanche on Monday night.
It was the third straight overtime game in this first-round series, with the Wild winning two of them.
Going back to 2003, the teams have played five straight overtime games in the playoffs, all of which ended in 3-2 scores.
The Wild, which snapped a five-game road losing streak in the playoffs, were outshot 40-30 in regulation but controlled the extra period with most of the action in the Colorado zone, outshooting the Avalanche 11-7.
Theodore made great save after great save and the Avs caught all kinds of breaks.
It even looked like there was going to be an icing call but Rolston beat Avs defenseman Jeff Finger to the puck and passed it into the slot for Bouchard’s first goal of the postseason.
The teams return Tuesday night for Game 4, a rare back-to-back in the playoffs that was necessitated by the NBA’s Denver Nuggets having the court Wednesday night for their regular-season finale.
That could hinder Avs left wing Peter Forsberg, who’s still dealing with a balky ankle and sore groin after rushing his return to the ice following his reunion with the Avalanche at the trade deadline.
Forsberg, 34, has been roughed up in this series, too, getting held and grabbed and thrown to the ice as he was in the second period, when Sean Hill wrapped him up for a takedown that resulted in a matching minor.
Of equal concern for the Avalanche is the enigmatic Theodore’s play.
He has held the Wild without a goal for the first two periods in all three games so far only to surrender multiple third-period goals.
This time, Todd Fedoruk centered the puck from the right corner and Mikko Koivu, skating down the slot, redirected it right between Theodore’s legs to tie it at 1 at 7:13 of the final period.
The Wild took their first lead on a short-handed goal with 8 1/2 minutes left when Pavol Demitra got control of the puck and skated past Joe Sakic to create a 2-on-1 break, sending it across to Rolston, who gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead.
The Avs tied it on Sakic’s goal with 5:04 left. Aaron Voros knocked Colorado forward Andrew Brunette into goaltender Niklas Backstrom, and Sakic punched it in while Backstrom was on his back in the net, helpless.
The Avalanche went ahead 1-0 in the first period when Sakic’s shot ricocheted off Backstrom and went right to Andrew Brunette, who smacked it into the net.
A former Minnesota star, Brunette was the hero of the Wild’s first-round playoff win over Colorado in 2003 when he scored the game-winner in overtime of Game 7, the last goal surrendered by Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy.
Colorado missed a big opportunity to pile it on, however, because just four seconds after Brunette’s goal, the Avs had their first of two power plays in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the period. The Wild killed off both penalties, including a 10-second 5-on-3 disadvantage.
The Avalanche, whose special team play has been suspect all season, finished 0-for-6 on the power play.
Notes: The Avs were 3-1 against Minnesota at home during the regular season. ... Minnesota has allowed the first goal in seven straight playoff games, dating to Game 1 of the 2007 Western Conference quarterfinals against Anaheim.