Sakic's overtime goal wilts Wild
Joe Sakic added to his own NHL record, recording his eighth career overtime goal as the Colorado Avalanche earned a 3-2 road win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.
The Wild had fought back from a two-goal deficit but Sakic finished the game at 11:11 of the extra frame. Kurt Sauer and Ryan Smyth also scored for Colorado in the first game of the Western Conference quarter-final, with Wojtek Wolski drawing two assists.
Sakic converted a rebound of Wolski's shot on the deciding score.
"It was right there on my backhand," Sakic said. "Just being in the right place at the right time, I guess."
Avalanche goaltender José Théodore was strong in net with 28 saves.
Smyth missed an opportunity to score the winner late in the third, stopped on a penalty shot by Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom.
Mikko Koivu and Todd Fedoruk scored early in the third to get Minnesota back on even terms.
Game 2 of the series is back at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday.
The series opener was an exciting contest with huge shifts in momentum.
"The intensity was at its best. Players were at their best," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "That's the playoffs. You get a break here and there and you turn out to be in great shape."
Minnesota outshot Colorado 11-2 in the first, but Théodore was stout, including on Koivu's re-direction attempt.
The road team took over in the second. Low-scoring defenceman Sauer jumped into the rush to take a pass in the slot from Sakic, beating Backstrom at the 1:29 mark.
The Avalanche added a power-play marker late in the period, with Smyth tipping a point shot into the net.
The Wild got their home fans back into it immediately after the puck dropped in the third. Koivu's shot just over three minutes in deflected off a Colorado skate and past Théodore.
By the 6:13 mark, the game was tied courtesy of a Wild power-play marker. Petteri Nummelin fed a deft pass to the front of the net for Fedoruk, who deked and lifted the puck over the Avalanche netminder.
Colorado came to life in the final minutes of the third, and Backstrom was forced to make glove saves on Smyth and Tyler Arnason. Théodore was tested on slapshot by Brian Rolston.
With about six minutes left, Colorado put the puck in the net but it was ruled to have been kicked in by David Jones.
No luck on penalty shot
The Avalanche got their penalty shot at 17:33. Minnesota defenceman Keith Carney covered the puck with his glove in the crease.
Backstrom made a brilliant save on Smyth and got lucky when Milan Hejduk hit the crossbar with just over a minute left.
There were a few thrills in overtime before Sakic's 83rd career playoff goal. Seconds after Backstrom robbed Arnason with a glove save, Brent Burns couldn't beat Théodore on a breakaway.
Backstrom finished with 19 stops.
"We know we can play these guys," Koivu said. "We know it's going to be tight all the way. That's how it's going to be. It's going to be a fight — every game, every shift. We just couldn't finish the way we wanted."
The Wild are without two key defenceman: Nick Schultz underwent an appendectomy on the eve of the series, joining Kurtis Foster (broken leg) on the sidelines.
Forward Mark Parrish left in the second after crashing headfirst into the boards following a hit from Ruslan Salei. Parrish, who had been a healthy scratch at times late in the season, was given the start ahead of enforcer Chris Simon.
Minnesota went 5-2-1 against Colorado during the season. In the only previous playoff meeting between the franchises, the Wild scored an upset over the Avalanche in 2003.
With files from the Associated Press