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Game 50: Wild 3, Avalanche 2

photo courtesy of David Zalubowski/AP

Despite playing hard all night, with especially good performances by John-Michael Liles, Andrew Brunette, Wojtek Wolski and Ian Laperriere, the Avalanche just couldn't get it done against the Minnesota Wild, losing 3-2 in regulation.

Last night's game is pretty indicative of the problems the Avs will face for the remainder of the season (or at least until Sakic, Smyth and Stastny are all back in the lineup).  They're a solid, strong team, but they just don't have that extra offensive oomph necessary to overcome a strong defensive team like the Wild.  

Once again the weak link was Jose Theodore, who let in a lazy backhander by Todd Fedoruk (no joke) that opened the scoring for the Wild early in the first period.  It should have been stopped.  The second goal was a bit more difficult, with Marian Gaborik making a sweet pass to Brian Rolston who put a monster shot from the slot through traffic into the back of the net.  

Brunette scored very late in the first with help from linemates Milan Hejduk and Jaroslav Hlinka, and it looked like it inspired the Avs to play harder.  Early in the second, Wolski scored with help from linemates Marek Svatos (!!!) and Tyler Arnason.  That means the top two lines both scored goals---which is what they're paid to do, believe it or not.

Unfortunately, the tie was broken by Pavol Demitra eleven minutes later after he scooped up a gigantic rebound (that shit was glowing it was so huge).  From that point on, the Avs fought furiously but couldn't get anything past Nick Backstrom, who was a beast in goal most of the night.  He stopped 28 of 30 Avalanche shots.

Theodore wasn't awful, by any means, stopping 34 of 37.  But, like I said in yesterday's preview, he looks tired and ready to rest, and the first soft goal of the night just drove the point home.  It's good that Q stood with one of his goaltenders despite a loss, but this time it was the wrong time to do so.  Ten games straight is two games too many for Theo, and he needs to rest.  As long as he knows he's still the starter and that he's only sitting to rest and not to be punished for losing, I think things will be fine.

Except that he's still Jose Theodore.  No amount of rest can cure him of that. j/k LOL

Stars of the Game:

  1. Pavol Demitra (1g, 1a)
  1. Brian Rolston (1g, 0a)
  1. John-Michael Liles (0g, 0a)