Minnesota (12-14-0) at Colorado (16-7-1)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Denver, CO
Temp: 65° F
  • Game info: 9:30 pm EST Wed Dec 17, 2003
  • TV: ESPN2, FSRM
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Any questions the Colorado Avalanche had about their goaltending entering this season are being answered by David Aebischer.

The Avalanche and their top goalie look to extend a season-high eight-game unbeaten streak when they host the Minnesota Wild.

Following the retirement Patrick Roy—arguably the greatest goaltender in NHL history—Colorado entered this season with two relatively inexperienced players in net in Aebischer and Philippe Sauve. On a team loaded with offensive talent and expected to be a leading contender for the Stanley Cup, goaltending figured to be Colorado’s only weakness.

Aebischer, who made 60 starts in his first three NHL seasons, has answered the critics with an outstanding first two months. He is among the league leaders with 14 wins, a 2.08 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.

Aebischer had another strong performance Saturday, stopping 32 shots as Colorado skated to a 1-1 tie at Calgary.

In his last six games, Aebischer is 2-0-4 while allowing just seven goals.

“David’s been everything we expected him to be and he certainly was a key factor in us getting a couple points on this trip,” Avalanche coach Tony Granato said.

Saturday was the second consecutive 1-1 tie for Colorado, 4-0-4 since a 3-2 loss to Nashville on Nov. 24.

Although the Avalanche haven’t lost in three weeks, Aebischer wasn’t satisfied with his team’s performance Saturday.

“Nobody’s happy in here,” Aebischer said. “It’s not so much because of the one point, it’s more because of the way we played. We can be much better than this, that’s for sure.”

Minnesota has put together back-to-back wins for the first time in more than a month following a 5-2 victory at Phoenix on Monday.

Andrew Brunette had a goal and two assists for the Wild, winners of three of four after winning just one of their previous eight games.

Minnesota had played eight straight games decided by one goal or in overtime before Monday. The Wild are one of the league’s weakest offensive clubs with 65 goals in 31 games.

“We’re not a high-scoring team, but I think if we play as hard as we did tonight we could get our share of goals,” coach Jacques Lemaire said. “It’s one of the few games we worked from start to end the same way.”

Wild right wing Marian Gaborik, Minnesota’s best player, has one point in his last nine games.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 15): Wild - 29 points, 4th place (tied), 10 PB, Northwest Division. Avalanche - 38 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Alexandre Daigle, 9 goals; Brunette, 13 assists and 20 points; Matt Johnson, 70 PIM. Avalanche - Milan Hejduk, 15 goals; Alex Tanguay, 26 assists and 35 points; Jim Cummins, 52 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 15): Wild - Power play: 14.2 percent (19 for 134), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.0 percent (100 for 115), 4th. Avalanche - Power play: 22.0 percent (28 for 127), 4th. Penalty killing: 86.7 percent (111 for 128), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Wild - Dwayne Roloson (6-8-3, 2 SO, 1.86 GAA); Manny Fernandez (6-6-2, 1, 2.32). Avalanche - Aebischer (14-4-4, 2, 2.08); Sauve (2-4-1, 2.35).

SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 1-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 4; 4-4 tie. At Denver, Steve Konowalchuk scored his second goal of the game with 8:05 left in regulation as Colorado rallied for a point.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 6-6-2-0 on the road; Avalanche - 9-5-2-0 at home.

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