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Avalanche edge Wild for rare victory

DENVER (Ticker) -- The Colorado Avalanche have mastered overtime

and shootouts this season, and that dominance cost the Minnesota

Wild a chance to gain a valuable point in the Western Conference

playoff race.

Milan Hejduk and Wojtek Wolski scored shootout goals and Peter

Budaj stopped both Wild attempts in the tiebreaker in the

Avalanche's 2-1 victory on Thursday night.

The Avalanche are 9-1 in shootouts and 2-0 in overtime, but

their 18-37 record in regulation has them in last place in the

Western Conference.

"There's a lot of things you can go back on in a year,"

Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. "I'm sure every team is

thinking the same thing right now."

Marc-Andre Bergeron scored and Niklas Backstrom made 40 saves

for the Wild, who are tied with Nashville with 71 points for

ninth place in the West.

"The standings will change every day, every night," Backstrom

said. "One point is better than nothing, but we have to go out

and get two points every night."

Colorado's solid effort Thursday made sure the Wild didn't get

two points. Minnesota was outshot, 41-17, and Budaj only had to

make four of his 16 saves in the third period and overtime.

"We totally deserved to win because we outplayed them," Budaj

said. "In the third and overtime, I think we dominated them.

Backstrom made some big saves."

The Wild opened the scoring on their second power play.

Bergeron scored on a one-timer from the point with 9:45 left in

the first period, his 10th goal of the season.

A little more than a minute later, Cal Clutterbuck nearly gave

Minnesota a 2-0 lead, but Budaj made the save.

John-Michael Liles tied it 37 seconds into the second period.

With Martin Skoula off for holding the stick, Liles blasted a

slap shot from the point past Backstrom for his ninth goal and

fifth on the power play.

"In the beginning of the second, we knew we had to take

advantage of that power play," Liles said. "I tried to put as

much as possible behind it as I've got, which isn't a ton, but I

was able to sneak one past him."

Minnesota had a chance to take control in the second period.

Cody McCormick took a double-minor for high-sticking with 9:13

left, then Ryan Smyth was called for hooking with seven seconds

left in McCormick's second penalty. In the 5:17 of power-play

time, which ended with a Minnesota penalty for too many men on

the ice, the Wild managed just one shot.

"What we need to change is our power play," said Wild coach

Jacques Lemaire, whose team was 1-for-5 with the advantage. "We

didn't play with any emotion when we were on the power play. We

wanted to get better, and we were worse."

Minnesota generated few chances after the halfway point of the

second period and were outshot, 17-4, in the third period and


"There is no excuse for this," Wild center Mikko Koivu said.

"There is no reason to play like we did. We are in a playoff

race, and every point is important right now. We can't be

satisfied with this game. We have to be honest about it. We

weren't very good and not very excited."


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