Wild goalie? Lemaire knows, but he’s not talking

DENVER (AP)—Quick to embrace his team’s underdog status, Minnesota Wild coach Jacques Lemaire is reluctant to give any edge to the Colorado Avalanche.

So when it came to announcing his starting goalie for Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series, Lemaire abstained.

Dwayne Roloson stopped 39 of 41 shots in Minnesota’s 4-2 victory Thursday night. He and Manny Fernandez have shared time this season, with Roloson playing in 50 games and Fernandez in 35.

Following Minnesota’s practice Friday, Lemaire was asked who will start in goal Saturday.

“You will know (Saturday),” he said.

Asked if he had decided who will start, he said, “Yes. There won’t be any difference.”

Wild center Wes Walz, who scored Minnesota’s third goal in Game 1, agreed.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “It hasn’t mattered all year. We’ve come to the building not knowing who would be starting often this year. We have gotten good play from both goalies.”

In the opener, Minnesota was outshot 18-3 in the first period and 41-27 overall.

“We need to get more scoring chances,” Lemaire said. “We didn’t get a lot of them Thursday.”

Lemaire continued to play up his team’s status as a third-year expansion team playing in the playoffs for the first time against a team that won Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001 and has reached at least the conference finals the last four years.

Asked if his team’s underdog role had changed, Lemaire said, “I don’t think so. Before the series started, we felt if we got one game, it would be a big thing to experience that. We are happy about that. I said before, we had an exceptional year just to make these playoffs.”

The Wild, the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, were the lowest-scoring team among all 16 playoff teams, but they erupted for three goals in a 4:20 span of the second period Thursday night, and Colorado, the No. 3 seed, never recovered.

The Avs weren’t panicking, however.

“It’s just one game,” Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. “We can’t put too much focus on it. Our motto all year has been: Don’t worry about yesterday, get ready for the one that’s coming up next, and that’s (Saturday) at 1 o’clock.”

Seven of the top eight seeds lost their first game this week.

“That’s an amazing stat, that seven of the eight home teams lost,” Avalanche forward Steven Reinprecht said. “It’s pretty crazy. But hopefully that’s not the way it turns out in Game 2s.”

Colorado’s Dan Hinote said it was a reflection of the parity in the NHL this year.

“There isn’t a lot of difference between a sixth and a third seed or between a first and an eighth seed,” he said. “It’s just a matter of who’s playing better that night, who wants it more.”

Granato said few changes were in order for his team entering Game 2.

“You don’t win a seven-game series in the first game,” he said. “We’re disappointed with the results of Game 1, but the important thing is how we respond in Game 2.

“In the first period, we came out and played exactly the way we wanted to, and Roloson made the saves. They capitalized on a couple of their opportunities and got the lead, and that’s when they play their best. Their record speaks for itself—31-0-1 when leading after two periods.

“You can’t panic. You can’t go back to the drawing board and say, `Oh, no, how are we going to beat this team?’ We have to play our game the same way we have all year.”

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