Wild prevail over Avalanche in overtime
The Minnesota Wild narrowly avoided a twin killing in the Twin Cities for the Colorado Avalanche.
Keith Carney was credited with the winning goal 74 seconds into overtime as the hometown Wild rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarter-final at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday night.
"It was great," Wild defenceman Kim Johnsson said of Carney's second goal all season. "You know, he works really, really hard every single game."
Carney's slapshot looked to strike the skate of teammate Brian Rolston en route to the back of the net behind Avalanche goaltender Jose Theodore.
Nevertheless, it evened the best-of-seven series 1-1.
Game 3 goes Monday in Denver (CBC, 10 p.m. ET).
"They just threw the puck at the net," Theodore said. "They got a shot off a couple of skates and it went in.
"I would not say it is bad luck. When you throw pucks at the net, that is what happens [and] in overtime, you just throw everything at the net."
Pavol Demitra scored on a power play and Mikko Koivu had the other goal for the Wild, who clinched their first Northwest Division title and the third seed in the Western Conference.
Niklas Backstrom kicked out 24 of 26 shots.
Minnesota is trying to make do without injured regulars Kurtis Foster (broken leg), Mark Parrish (concussion) and Nick Schultz (appendectomy).
That said, Martin Skoula skated a regular shift, shaking off a bruised leg suffered when he blocked a shot from Ruslan Salei in Game 1.
"It is tough to lose two defencemen that we rely on a lot," Carney said. "But we're excited about the playoffs and we're ready to play.
"As a team, we have to, kind of, rally around and fill that void."
Peter Forsberg had one goal and one assist for the sixth-seeded Colorado Avalanche, who settled for a split after stealing the opener 3-2 on Joe Sakic's goal 11:11 into OT.
"You're satisfied splitting," Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville said. "But when you win that first one, you would like to go home 2-0."
Milan Hejduk tallied with 44 seconds remaining in regulation to force OT.
Theodore faced 31 shots, including 16 in the third period when he surrendered two goals - just as he did in Game 1.
Forsberg staked the Avalanche to a 1-0 lead on a slick solo effort, stickhandling into the slot and unleashing a quick wrist shot that beat Backstrom high to the glove side 17:06 into the contest.
Tables turned in third
Colorado outshot Minnesota 8-7 in each of the first two periods, but the Wild turned the tables 16-10 in the third period.
Demitra tied it 1-1 on a rising slapshot from the point 97 seconds into the period.
Moments after Backstrom smothered the puck on a partial breakaway by Ian Laperriere, Koivu pounced on a turnover in neutral ice and beat Theodore between the pads with a low slapshot from just inside the blue-line with 1:51 remaining.
It was Koivu's second tally of the series and put the Wild in position to win outright in regulation, but Johnsson was penalized 50 seconds later for hooking Ryan Smyth at the top of the crease.
Smyth and the Avalanche cycled the puck with confidence on the ensuing power play, and were rewarded when Hejduk deflected John-Michael Liles point shot past a screened Niklas Backstrom for the tying goal with 44 seconds left.
That set the stage for Carney's heroics in OT.
"It was tough because we thought we had the game won there in the third [and got] a questionable call on the penalty," Carney said. "But we just talked about refocusing and not letting that beat us, just continuing to play our game and do the right things on the ice.
"We felt if we did that, then we would get the right result."
Colorado and Minnesota met previously in the conference quarter-finals in 2002-03, with the Wild winning in seven games.
With files from the Associated Press