Wild need a bounce-back performance

Series tied 2-2 heading into tonight’s game

Associated Press

ST. PAUL — The series is even, with Colorado and Minnesota each owning two victories, though the statistics suggest otherwise.

The Wild have held a lead for a mere 41⁄2 minutes of cumulative time, and the Avalanche have outscored them 9-0 in the first and second periods of the first four games. After three straight overtime decisions, the Avs broke out with a 5-1 win on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, however, there was a decidedly don’t-worry theme coming from the Minnesota dressing room following a late-afternoon practice.


"We don’t feel good about losing 5-1. But demoralizing? It’s 2-2," left wing Brian Rolston said. He added: "We’re prepared for a long battle, and that’s what we’re going to have."

The concern for the Wild in a seven-game series — and beyond — is their depth on defense, where the absence of Nick Schultz while he recovers from an appendectomy has been as costly as expected. The blue-liners forced into extended playing time performed impressively over the first few games, but they seemed to lose their energy and focus in Game 4.

The Wild also lost their cool and were called in Tuesday’s game for 111 penalty minutes. Colorado’s agitators Ian Laperriere and Cody McLeod were involved in plenty of scrums, but they and the rest of their teammates avoided the march to the box that befell Minnesota.

The Avalanche had 13 power plays and scored on two of them.

Marian Gaborik is often another reason why Minnesota wins. Fortunately for the Wild, they’ve picked up two victories without a single point from their star right wing.

"It’s tough. Room is scarce. I have to play through it. I can only work hard and make other contributions when the goals aren’t coming," Gaborik said. "I have to work harder to get some chances and create openings — and shoot when I get them."

Coach Jacques Lemaire agreed, expressing confidence that Gaborik will eventually come through — but urging him to fight through the frustration to find those additional scoring chances.

"It’s a tight game. We mentioned that all along. Playoffs, it’s different. Guys, they check harder. They pay more attention to the top players," Lemaire said.


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