Théodore steals Game 5 for Avalanche
José Théodore was brilliant for Colorado in Game 5 on Thursday night, holding the Avalanche in the game until teammates Wojtek Wolski and Paul Stastny provided third period goals for a 3-2 win.
Théodore finished with 38 saves. Minnesota held a shots advantage after two periods, but could muster few great scoring chances in the third.
"I just tried to make every save," Theodore said. "Like I say, they're a great team and I'm going to have to be ready for the next one."
Andrew Brunette scored the first goal of the game for the third consecutive time in the series. Colorado scored first in all five games of the series.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard tied the game in the second for Minnesota, with Rolston scoring a relatively meaningless goal with under two seconds left in the third period. Game 6 will take place in Denver on Saturday night (CBC, 10 p.m. ET).
The Wild outshot Colorado 17-6 in the first, but the score was tied 1-1 heading into intermission as the teams traded power-play goals.
Brunette's goal at 12:24 was fortuitous, as a puck struck Wild defenceman Kim Johnsson's skate and bounced right to the Avalanche forward.
Bouchard, Minnesota's overtime hero in the third game of the series, tipped a shot from Brent Burns to tie the game with 40 seconds left in the first. Brian Rolston set up the play with a cross-ice pass to Burns.
It was the first time the tardy Wild have scored in either the first or second period in the series.
Théodore stopped all 15 shots he faced in the second period. The Avalanche netminder stopped strong chances from Rolston, Burns, Todd Fedoruk and Marian Gaborik.
Gaborik has fired 18 shots on Théodore in the series but has yet to score.
"We kept going and playing hard and getting chances through the whole game because we felt we would get it," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "But we had no breaks. Nothing. Rebounds, we were close, but never got the puck on the stick, and the great chances we had, he made some saves."
Assists for Hejduk, Forsberg
Colorado's best chance came on a 2-on-1, but Wolski passed up a good opportunity for a shot, instead trying to feed Ben Guite.
Milan Hejduk and Peter Forsberg got assists on both Colorado goals in the third, which game just 79 seconds apart.
Wolski one-timed a shot for the lead at 6:25 of the third. The Avalanche are a healthy 6-for-27 on the power play for the series.
Stastny got his first career playoff goal by lifting a backhand shot over Backstrom's pad.
Minnesota could only summon the very late goal from Rolston with Backstrom on the bench for an extra attacker.
Fewer penalties in Thursday's game
"He [Théodore] was the only reason we were in the game," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "Great's not even the word to describe it. Being tied going into the third was almost like winning going into the third."
Forsberg, who has had issues with durability, played his third game in four nights.
Thursday's game was relatively mild after 154 penalty minutes were amassed in Game 4.
Minnesota has held a lead in the series for only 4 minutes, 31 seconds out of a possible 324:23.
The Avalanche are now in the driver's seat heading home. Teams that have taken a 3-2 lead historically have won 80 per cent of series.
"There's no such thing as a driver's seat," said Colorado forward Ian Laperriere. "That's the toughest game to win, that fourth game. We know that, and they're going to be desperate like they were in the second period. They're going to come at us really hard."
With files from the Associated Press