PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinal; Avalanche lead 2-1.
No player can neutralize a boisterous home crowd like Patrick Roy.
With the series tied at one game apiece, the Avalanche knew an early goal in Game 3 on Monday in the first playoff game in Minnesota in 11 years would be a huge boost for them.
Alex Tanguay gave Colorado the early lead it wanted 3:33 into the first period, and that was all the offense Roy needed. The four-time Stanley Cup winner stopped 18 shots in a 3-0 victory for his 150th playoff win and 23rd postseason shutout—both NHL records.
“The crowd was crazy in the beginning,” Colorado’s Peter Forsberg said. “I thought it was great to get the lead the way we got it.”
Roy was at his best in the second period, when Minnesota outshot Colorado 8-1 over the first two-thirds of the session.
“I don’t go on the road for a split,” Roy said. “We’re looking to win every game we play. Split is not a word for me.”
Captain Joe Sakic had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who have outscored the Wild 6-2 after losing the series opener 4-2.
The state of Minnesota hadn’t hosted an NHL playoff game since April 28, 1992, when the North Stars lost to Detroit in Game 6 of a Campbell Conference first-round series. The crowd of 19,534 was the largest to watch a hockey game in Minnesota.
“Everybody was excited, and everybody got chills when they jumped on the ice,” Minnesota’s Marian Gaborik said. “We tried to battle back, but it just didn’t happen.”
Gaborik, Minnesota’s best offensive player, has been held without a point the last two games after scoring his first career playoff goal in the series opener. He was benched for a portion of the third period.
Half of the Wild’s six goals in this series have come on the power play, but Colorado’s all-around strong game included special teams Monday. The Avalanche were 1-for-4 with the man advantage and killed all six opposing power plays.
Wild coach Jacques Lemaire knows his team doesn’t have the talent or experience to match up with anything like Roy, Sakic and Forsberg.
“We know they’re stronger,” Lemaire said. “They’ve been there in the past and they have great players and they should win. What we want to do is give them a good fight and we want to make it as close as possible. If we can get some breaks and steal another game, we’ll take it.”
Lemaire could switch goalies for Game 4, though Dwayne Roloson could hardly be blamed for Minnesota’s last two losses. Lemaire alternated Roloson and Manny Fernandez throughout the regular season and promised to use Fernandez at least once in this series.
When asked about a possible goalie change for Game 4, Lemaire would not commit.
“We’ll see in a couple of days,” he said.
The series moves back to the Pepsi Center for Game 5 on Saturday afternoon.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Avalanche - 105 points; 3rd seed. Wild - 95 points; 6th seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Milan Hejduk and Sakic, 2 goals; three tied with 2 assists; three tied with 3 points; five tied with 4 PIM. Wild - Andrew Brunette and Wes Walz, 2 goals; Darby Hendrickson and Sergei Zholtok, 2 assists, Brunette, 3 points; Filip Kuba, 8 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Avalanche - Power play: 15.4 percent (2 for 13). Penalty killing: 78.6 percent (11 for 14). Wild - Power play: 21.4 percent (3 for 14). Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (11 for 13).
GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - Roy (2-1, 1 SO, 2.02 GAA); David Aebischer (no appearances). Wild - Roloson (1-2, 2.68); Fernandez (no appearances).
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 2-1-2. The series was tightly played and low scoring, with Colorado outscoring Minnesota 14-12. Roy went 2-0-2 with a 1.68 GAA in the series.