Colorado Avalanche Logo and Header

Game Recap

Avalanche 2, Wild 1

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 2:49 AM

Associated Press

Share with your Friends

Avalanche 2, Wild 1
Minnesota Wild 1, Colorado Avalanche 2

DENVER (AP) -A magnificent March means the Colorado Avalanche will have something to play for in April.

Colorado kept its thin playoff hopes alive Saturday, beating the Minnesota Wild 2-1 behind Peter Budaj's record-tying 10th win in March.

The Avalanche also tied a team mark with 11 wins in a month, first accomplished in January 2004.

"These are desperation times," said rookie Paul Stastny, whose power-play goal in the second period capped Colorado's comeback. "It has loosened us up. We sure aren't nervous. We get down a goal and feel like we can come back, and have."

Colorado is five points behind Calgary for the last Western Conference playoff spot with four games remaining. The Flames were to play at Vancouver on Saturday night and host Colorado on Tuesday.

"We were hoping that it (would have) some meaning and it was going to be an important game and it is," Avs coach Joel Quenneville said.

Budaj went 10-0-2 in March, tying the franchise record for wins in any month set by Daniel Bouchard with the Quebec Nordiques in February 1981. He broke the March mark of nine set by Jocelyn Thibault in 1995 and tied by Patrick Roy in 2000 and '03.

Minnesota, in a close race with Vancouver for the Northwest Division title, lost its third straight following a franchise-record, nine-game winning streak, lending credence to coach Jacques Lemaire's declaration last week that he wished the playoffs started right away and not on April 11.

The Avs quickly found themselves in a hole when Marian Gaborik's wrist shot from the left circle on the power play gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead just 81 seconds into the game.

Two power-play goals in the second period sapped Minnesota's momentum.

John-Michael Liles tapped the puck past John Harding, then Stastny put the Avs ahead when he flipped a rebound into the net for his 26th goal after Milan Hejduk's shot hit the crossbar.

"Hejduk hit the crossbar, the puck hit Keith Carney in the shoulder and there was the puck right below me," Stastny said. "The goalie couldn't find it, and I put it in."

The Avs weathered a 40-second 5-on-3 disadvantage in the third period after Kurt Sauer went to the penalty box for holding while Tyler Arnason was out for hooking. Brett Clark threw his body in front of a shot and limped off the ice. The Wild had only two shots on goal during the entire power play.

This is exactly the kind of hockey the Avs have been playing for a month after all seemed lost at the trade deadline.

"We have to play desperate," Liles said. "We have ourselves to blame because we put ourselves in this position and put ourselves behind the 8-ball. We played a good game and then a bad one, but never putting together two good ones. We finally put together a heck of a run."

Lemaire was at a loss to explain his team's lack of focus and continued failure on the power play.

"Our defensemen turn the puck over more than ever. I know they're not ready to play," he said. "The mind is not there (for) some of them."

The Avalanche have made the playoffs every year since 1994, two years before the franchise moved from Quebec. The only player left from that team is captain Joe Sakic.

Once the franchise relocated in Denver, the Avalanche enjoyed a decade of dominance before the NHL landscape changed 18 months ago, forcing Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote and Paul Kariya out of town. The exodus of veterans continued last summer with the departures of Rob Blake, Dan Hinote and Alex Tanguay, more victims of the salary cap designed to resuscitate the league.

Unable to just outspend other teams and assemble an abundance of All-Star talent as it did in winning the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001, the Avalanche turned to a youth movement. After some growing pains, the Avs rebounded behind Stastny, who set a rookie record by scoring in 20 straight games from Feb. 3-March 17, and Budaj, who has helped Colorado go 12-1-2 in its last 15 games.

"We've come together as a team playing desperation hockey," Liles said. "You only hope it's not too late."

Notes: Minnesota had earned a point in nine straight road games, going 7-0-2. ... Colorado was 3-1 at home in March and 8-0-2 on the road, collecting 24 of a possible 28 points.

scoring summary
1st Period
PPG - Marian Gaborik (29) ASST: Brian Rolston (32), Branko Radivojevic (13)
1 - 0 MIN
2nd Period
PPG - John-Michael Liles (14) ASST: Wojtek Wolski (26), Tyler Arnason (33)
1 - 1 Tie
PPG - Paul Stastny (26) ASST: Milan Hejduk (34), Andrew Brunette (53)
2 - 1 COL
3rd Period
penalty summary
1st Period
Brett Clark  Holding against  Adam Hall
Martin Skoula  Cross checking against  Brett McLean
2nd Period
Derek Boogaard  Charging against  John-Michael Liles
Brent Burns  Hooking against  Ben Guite
Brett McLean  Hooking against  Nick Schultz
Pierre-Marc Bouchard  Hooking against  Brett McLean
3rd Period
Keith Carney  Hooking against  Ian Laperriere
Tyler Arnason  Hooking against  Branko Radivojevic
Kurt Sauer  Holding against  Todd White
Martin Skoula  Slashing against  Mark Rycroft
goalie stats
Josh Harding
Josh Harding
SA: 32TOI: 59:08
Saves: 30EV: 20 - 20
PIM: 0PP: 10 - 12
SV%: .938SH: 0 - 0
Peter Budaj
Peter Budaj
SA: 24TOI: 59:54
Saves: 23EV: 20 - 20
PIM: 0PP: 3 - 4
SV%: .958SH: 0 - 0 is the official Web site of the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado Avalanche and are trademarks of Colorado Avalanche, LLC. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Colorado Avalanche Hockey Team, Inc. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.