If anyone expected the Colorado Avalanche to sweep the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, they were kidding themselves. In that building, in front of that crowd, the Avalanche are lucky to be returning to Denver with a win in hand.
After another intense, roller coaster of a game, Keith Carney of the Wild exploited a bad shift by Joe Sakic and his linemates, and got a lucky tip off the skate of Ruslan Salei to win the game just 1:14 into overtime. Sometimes Super Joe isn't all that clutch. Mikko Koivu made him look silly on defense before getting the puck to Carney and the rest is history.
The Avalanche have been extremely consistent so far. They've scored first in both games, and then squandered the lead in the third period. Only this time overtime didn't go their way.
Peter Forsberg scored a gorgeous goal in the first period off an assist from Jeff Finger, and Milan Hejduk tipped a John-Michael Liles slap shot on a power play in the last minute of third period to tie the game and send it to OT. Forsberg had the second assist. But it was all just a big tease.
While Forsberg had an excellent game, Super Joe was a little less than super. As Dater points out about Carney's overtime winner:
The Wild had a good shift against the Avs line of Joe Sakic, Andrew Brunette and Wojtek Wolski — a line that just didn't play its best all night — and victory came after Carney slapped it from the left boards, while Salei was tied up with Brian Rolston.
The most frustrating failure of that line was in the third period when Wojtek Wolski made an unbelievable pass to Andrew Brunette in the slot. All Brunette had to do was spin and backhand the biscuit past a completely-beaten Niklas Backstrom. But Brunette spun slower than the planet's rotation and Brent Burns made an incredible poke check and the goal that should have been just didn't happen.
That's hockey, but it still hurt.
Now, changing the subject a bit. For the record, I'm done complaining about the officials. I let myself get too wrapped up in their ineptitude and it's just not worth the stress and frustration. If I have to comment at all, I have to say that it's incredible how much photographic evidence there is that the refs systematically swallowed their whistles last night and in game 1.
I hope the coaches and captains of both teams register formal complaints with the league. But as for me, I'm done talking about it.
The Avs now rest for two days and ready themselves for game 3 in Denver on Monday. I think we fans could use a couple of days to rest, too. I know I'll be watching Boston-Montreal game tonight and the Philly-Washington match on Sunday to get my mind off of the Avalanche for a bit. I can't wait.
And hopefully I can find all the new gray hairs I have and yank them. By the time the Colorado-Minnesota series is over, I might just have to shave my head to maintain my boyish good looks.
Finally, a note about the game thread. Again, it was incredible, and though I was forced to split it up when the game went to overtime, the two threads combined totaled nearly 460 comments (and 2500 page views), by far a new record. The participation has been unbelievable, and I want to thank everybody for joining in. It's been fun as hell.
Now, rest up, take it easy, and get ready for another nail-biter on Monday.
Stars of the Game:
- Keith Carney (1g, 0a)
- Niklas Backstrom (24sv, .923)
- Peter Forsberg (1g, 1a)