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m9345 BC-HKN-Avalanche-Wild 1stLd-Writethru 03-17 0403

Wild take over first place in Northwest with win over Avalanche

ST. PAUL — Brent Burns and Branko Radivojevic scored, Niklas Backstrom stopped 29 shots and the Minnesota Wild took over sole possession of first place in the Northwest Division with a 3-1 victory over second-place Colorado on Monday night.

The Wild have 86 points, two ahead of Colorado and Calgary and four in front of Vancouver, which holds the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Minnesota, which had lost nine of 13, killed off a pair of early penalties, then scored on Burns’ goal at 8:54 on the its first power play. The Wild had not scored in their previous 18 power-play chances at home.

Joe Sakic tied the score on a power play at 4:51 of the second period, but Radivojevic tipped in a Burns’ pass at 9:42 of the period for the eventual game-winner.

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Colorado entered the game with the worst road power play in the league at 11.2 percent. The Avs converted only one of six chances, but missed on a crucial advantage with six minutes remaining in the third.

Minnesota has killed 10 of 11 power plays the last two games — its first back-to-back home victories in regulation since Dec. 18 and 20.

Jose Theodore stopped 26 shots, including a brilliant sliding save of Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s backhand that kept the Avs in the game with eight minutes to play.

Colorado had plenty of chances with an empty net in the final minutes, but Minnesota’s Stephane Veilleux scored from the opposite circle with 6.4 seconds remaining.

The Avs lost for just the third time in their last 11 games.

Notes: Avs center Peter Forsberg was back in the lineup after missing four games with a groin injury. Courted by the Wild before the trade deadline, Forsberg was booed by Minnesota fans whenever he touched the puck and drew a loud ovation when he was called for a diving penalty in the second period. ... Wild forward Derek Boogaard returned to action for the first time since Jan. 22 at Calgary. He missed 23 games with a bulging disc. ... Colorado defenseman Jordan Leopold, who played college hockey at the University of Minnesota, missed his fourth straight games with concussion-like symptoms despite practicing at full speed on Sunday.

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Colorado 0 1 0 — 1

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Minnesota 1 1 1 — 3

First Period—1, Minnesota, Burns 14 (Rolston, Sheppard), 8:54 (pp). Penalties—K.Foster, Min (cross-checking), 1:06; Burns, Min (delay of game), 2:26; Stastny, Col (hooking), 7:23; Carney, Min (hooking), 10:17; McCormick, Col (holding), 18:45.

Second Period—2, Colorado, Sakic 11 (Liles, Stastny), 4:51 (pp). 3, Minnesota, Radivojevic 5 (Burns, Koivu), 9:42. Penalties—Parrish, Min (hooking), 3:49; Forsberg, Col (diving), 13:59; Koivu, Min (interference), 13:59; Demitra, Min (hooking), 16:05.

Third Period—4, Minnesota, Veilleux 10, 19:53 (en). Penalties—Laperriere, Col (interference), 3:27; Bouchard, Min (hooking), 13:51.

Shots on Goal—Colorado 8-7-15—30. Minnesota 14-8-7—29.

Power-play opportunities—Colorado 1 of 6; Minnesota 1 of 3.

Goalies—Colorado, Theodore 23-20-2 (28 shots-26 saves). Minnesota, Backstrom 28-13-7 (30-29).

A—18,568 (18,568). T—2:24.

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Referees—Mick McGeough, David Banfield. Linesmen—Mike Cvik, Lonnie Cameron.

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