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Game 11: Avalanche 3, Wild 1

photo courtesy of Will Powers/AP

In a very must-win situation, the Avlanche again came through, largely on the back of superb goaltending and clutch play by two important veterans.  After defeating the Wild 3-1 yesterday, the Avs now have a 5-0 record at home and a three-game winning streak.  

In what was mostly a very disciplined game, the Colorado defense held the Wild offense to just 22 shots on goal, including a second period in which Minnesota made only five.  Peter Budaj, playing very well in net again, stopped all but one shot for a save percentage of .955.  His overall record is now 5-2 with a 2.82 goals against average and a .9 save percentage.  Not bad, definitely.

Colorado scored first in the game off a great steal by Ryan Smyth, who teamed with Joe Sakic on a fast give-and-go to beat rookie Wild goaltender Josh Harding.  Unfortunately, the Wild would score a power play goal seven minutes later.  The Avalanche penalty kill was strong but not perfect this time, going 2-3.  

Once again proving invaluable, Marek Svatos scored the eventual game-winner in the second period with a backhand shot directly in front of Harding.  Smyth and Sakic received the assists on that one.  Both Smyth and Svatos now have five goals on the season.

The real action came near the end of the third period, though, as the Wild turned up the heat in an effort to come back.  Down 2-1, Minnesota defenseman Petteri Nummelin took a quick wrist shot on a wide-open net (see above photo).  Peter Budaj, slow to get across, fully extended his left pad to the far goal post and rolled his body forward, lifting his glove in the air as he fell.  The puck, on an upward trajectory, cleared Budaj's leg but was caught in the glove for Budaj's biggest save so far this season.  It preserved the win for the Avs.

Wojtek Wolski scored on a late power play with just 37 seconds left in the game off a great pass from Paul Stastny to clinch the win.  Andrew Brunette received credit for the second assist.

Overall, the Avalanche won on strong defense and superb goaltending.  They shut down a very good team.  Colorado now sits in second place in the Northwest Division just two points behind Minnesota and one point ahead of Calgary.

The Avalanche has three days off, and will next face the Pittsburgh Penguins at home in the Pepsi Center on Thursday, November 1st.  

Stars of the Game:

  1. Joe Sakic (0g, 2a)
  1. Ryan Smyth (1g, 1a)
  1. Peter Budaj (21sv, .955)