Sakic notched his first shootout goal in eight tries on Saturday night and Peter Budaj made 28 saves to lift the Colorado Avalanche to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
“Don’t ask,” Sakic said sheepishly. “I knew one of them had to go in eventually.”
Sakic also scored the Avs’ only goal in regulation, and his nifty top-shelf backhander beat Niklas Backstrom to give Colorado a 2-1 edge in the shootout.
“We knew Joe would score,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’s like 0-for-7 with six pipes or crossbars.”
Budaj, who stopped two of three shots in the shootout, then stuffed Brian Rolston on Minnesota’s last chance, handing the Wild their first shootout loss of the season.
Backstrom made 30 saves in a surprise start, but also gave up a goal to Wojtek Wolski in the shootout.
“He was really solid,” Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard said. “He made some key saves for us to keep us in the game. But it would have been fun to give him a couple of goals for support.”
Budaj appeared to be on his way to his second shutout in as many nights with just under six minutes to play in regulation.
But Mikko Koivu finally solved him after a questionable interference call on Colorado’s Ken Klee. Rolston ripped a slap shot from the point that Koivu deftly deflected, and Budaj didn’t have a chance.
The goal tied the score 1-1, and the Wild thought they had the Avs right where they wanted them. Minnesota entered the night 7-0 in overtime games this season, including 4-0 in shootouts.
But Budaj was too tough in his second start in a row. He hadn’t made a start for Colorado since Nov. 2 before getting the nod over Jose Theodore on Friday night. Budaj made 25 saves in a 3-0 victory over Columbus to stop a four-game slide.
He stopped a point-blank wrist shot from Pavol Demitra 6:30 into the second period, then thwarted a breakaway by Pierre-Marc Bouchard three minutes later. Budaj capped the period by stopping Brent Burns’ slap shot to preserve a 1-0 lead.
“Budaj is playing well,” Quenneville said when asked if there is a goalie controversy. “He has taken charge in goal, didn’t give up many rebounds tonight. But we’ll take a look at it.”
Koivu scored Minnesota’s lone goal in the shootout.
Playing at home for the first time in two weeks, the Wild came out flat in the first period. They struggled to sustain offense in the Colorado zone and did not register a single shot on goal during two power plays.
Backstrom played well in his second start of the season. Coach Jacques Lemaire said Friday that he was sticking with Manny Fernandez in net despite his recent struggles. Fernandez has allowed nine goals in his previous two starts, including five in less than two periods of Thursday night’s victory over Nashville.
The Wild thought they had finally put an end to their years-long goaltender platoon when they traded Dwayne Roloson to Edmonton last season, handing the full-time job to Fernandez.
But Fernandez is 1-4 with a 4.04 goals-against average in his last seven starts and Backstrom has played very well in the last two games.
He came on in relief against the Predators to help the Wild comeback, and made several impressive glove saves on Saturday night, though Lemaire said afterward that Fernandez will start the next two games for Minnesota.
“He’s been coming in for us, saving us a lot,” Rolston said. “And tonight he was awesome and played great for us. We haven’t seen a whole lot of him, but when he have, he’s been terrific.”
Notes: Former University of Minnesota star Jordan Leopold, a defenceman for the Avalanche, is still recovering from a hernia and did not dress. … Wild enforcer Derek Boogard missed his second straight game with a leg injury. … Koivu’s goal allowed the Wild to avoid being shutout for the 88th straight game, the second longest active streak in the league behind Detroit (138).