Liveblogging the Wild: Game 5 vs. Avalanche; Wild lose 3-2
Let's get the band back together: Wild coach Jacques Lemaire has wisely decided to reunite the Fedoruk/Dmitra/Gaborik line that has proven to be a winning combination. Puck drops and the Wild are out to show that even if the Avs are too chicken to drop the gloves, this is going to be a physical game. The Boogeyman chases John-Michael Liles who gets blindsided by Stephane Veilleux! Boy, Veilleux is looking fired up this shift. Must have something to do with that fight last game. Todd Fedoruk lays out Peter Forsberg with a big hit. This is bigtime physical hockey and the Wild are really punishing the Avs. Ryan Smyth drives for the goal but Martin Skoula cuts him off and corrals him around the back of the net. That booing from the crowd means Derek Boogaard is back on the ice and looking for trouble. Colorado is on the power play--Milan Hejduk fires it in, the puck bounces off a skate and lands in Andrew Brunette's lap and he chips it in for the goal. 1-0 in the first period is becoming all too familiar for the Wild. Cody McLeod is in front of the goal chirping again. Forsberg takes a dive. Great sign in the crowd: "Swedish diving champion Peter Flopsberg." Brent Burns drives to the net and shoots; Fedoruk has a good look at a second chance but can't finish. Wild on the power play working the cycle--Burns with a beautiful dish to Pierre-Marc Bouchard who scores! Finally, the Wild end their long drought of first period scoring. That's a big momentum shifter as the period comes to an end.
The puck drops and Wild get the draw. Boogey lines up against Laperriere but Lapussy wants nothing to do with it, Boogey squats in front of the goal and snaps back Liles head with a stiff shove. Gaborik to Demitra but the puck won't settle down. Veilleux in front of the net with a chance but Theodore kneels down on it. Bouchard leaves it for Rolston but his slapper is stuffed by Theodore. Veilleux is called for hooking and the Avs will have the man advantage. Burns loses his stick but he still throws a nice hit. Two minutes down with no shots on goal. Good penalty kill, boys. Keith Carney fires it in and Gabby has a great second chance but Theodore gets his left shin pad on it. Boogaard collides with Laperriere who stays down and eventually limps off the ice. Just desserts. Rolston gets a step and takes a great wrist shot that trickles across the crease but nobody's there to follow. Rolston fires a missile of a slapper and Theodore with another great stop, though he'll be feeling that one tomorrow. Avs have a two-on-one breakaway but it's broken up by Erik Reitz. Potential game-saver by a guy without a lot of minutes--good to see him stepping up. Demitra with a long slapper that scores, but the refs whistled it dead. Damn. Gabby to Skoula back to Gabby who has a great look. Fedoruk with another opportunity. Wild are getting a lot of chances--shot differential is 30-13--but Theodore is having a great series in goal. Rolston crosses to Burns who by all rights should score but Theodore shrugs it off, literally stopping the puck with his shoulder. Here's Gabby with a shot--stoned! Theodore is like the opposite of Neo from the Matrix--he sees projectiles in slow motion and finds a way to get his body in front of it. He's singlehandedly keeping the Avs in this game. The period ends tied 1-1.
We're all tied up going into a crucial third period. Wild have played strong late in the game all series, so let's hope they can keep it up. Leperriere gets leveled by Fedoruk! Boy is Leperriere taking a well-deserved beating this game. Gabby on the odd-man rush with Demitra but it's broken up. Avs are getting off a lot of shots--this is dangerous. Smyth flops and it's another power play for the Avs--the officials have not been kind to the Wild. Across the ice to Wojtek Wolski one-timer scores! Let's get it back. Burns loses it to Hejduk who dishes to Stasny who backhands it past Backstrom and just like that the Wild are down 3-1. After dominating the game, it's starting to look out of reach for the Wild. Burns drives the net with Gabby but there's nothing there. Avs are sitting on their lead and running down the clock. With seven minutes left the team of 18,000 is getting restless and eyeing the exits. Sheppard with a great chance in front of the goal but Theodore dives on it. That may have been our last best chance. Lemaire pulls Backstrom at just under 2 minutes. Wild gets the draw and Rolston shoots and scores! Too bad there's only 2.5 seconds left. It would take a miracle slapper from center ice. Nope.
What a frustrating loss. Saturday is a must-win. In the meantime, check out my colleague Ben Palosaari's take on the game.
Here's a game summary courtesy of Wild PR dude Ryan Stanzel:
April 17, 2008 ♦ Xcel Energy Center ♦ Saint Paul, Minn.
ATTENDANCE: 19,364 (overflow sellout)
Team 1st 2nd 3rd F
COLORADO (3-2) 1 0 2 3
WILD (2-3) 1 0 1 2
LW Wojtek Wolski and C Paul Stastny each scored early third period goals and G Jose Theodore made 38 saves as the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-2 in front of 19,364 at Xcel Energy Center to take a three games to two lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference Quarterfinal series. Former Wild LW Andrew Brunette also scored for Colorado, which can win the series on their home ice Saturday at 9 p.m. (CDT).
G Niklas Backstrom made 14 saves for Minnesota in suffering his third loss of the postseason.
RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s first period power-play goal marked the Wild’s first goal in the opening 40 minutes of any game in this series. The Wild had been outscored 10-0 in the first two periods, including LW Andrew Brunette’s goal at 12:24 of the first, and hadn’t scored a goal on its first 50 first period shots of the series. Bouchard netted his second goal of the series and third of his post-season career. He scored the game-winner in overtime in Game 3.
LW Brian Rolston’s goal at 19:57 of the final stanza marked the fifth consecutive playoff game that the Wild has scored in the third period. It marked Rolston’s second goal of the postseason and, combined with his assist on Bouchard’s second period goal, gives him a team-leading six points in the postseason (2-4=6).
C James Sheppard earned the first point in his playoff career with an assist on Rolston’s goal.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, when a best-of-seven NHL post-season series is tied 2-2, the Game 5 victor has gone on to win the series 158 of 196 times (80.6 percent). Minnesota is a combined 6-2 in games five, six and seven.
The Wild has twice won a series when trailing 3-2. The Wild is the lone team in NHL history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in back-to-back playoff series - against Colorado and Vancouver in 2003. Minnesota is 7-2 all-time in elimination games.
Colorado has won Games 4 and 5 by a combined 8-3 margin.
Before the Avs tallied a pair of third period goals tonight, the Wild had a 7-2 third-period advantage in the series, and a 9-3 bulge counting overtime. The Wild has led for 4:31 of the 324:23 played in this series - 1.4 percent of the time played.
The Wild fell to 4-9 all-time in home playoff games. A victory tonight would have marked Minnesota's first set of back-to-back victories at home in franchise history.
Minnesota has allowed the game’s first goal in nine straight playoff games, dating back to Game 1 of the 2007 Western Conference Quarterfinals versus Anaheim - the last time the Wild scored first.
Wild D Erik Reitz made his NHL playoff debut.
Minnesota’s 40 shots tied a team record for a playoff game last accomplished on April 17, 2007, in a 4-1 win over Anaheim in Game 4 of the conference quarterfinals. The Wild’s 17 first-period shots were a team playoff record. The old mark of 16 was set May 14, 2003, in the first period of a 4-0 loss at Anaheim in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.