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Minnesota at Colorado

Wild 3, Avalanche 2

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DENVER -- Spot the Minnesota Wild a lead after two periods, and it's game over, thanks for playing.

So far, at least, that's proven to be the case.

Minnesota improved to 20-0-0 this season when taking a lead into final period, beating the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Thursday night.

Pavol Demitra's 10th goal of the season gave the Wild the lead heading into the third period and they made it stand up -- as usual.

"We should try to do that more often," said Niklas Backstrom, whose team took over the lead in the Northwest Division heading into the All-Star break. "We play with confidence when we're up."

No one more than Backstrom, who improved to 25-0 in his career with his team up after two periods.

"You want to finish," said Backstrom, who finished with 28 saves. "You can see the end and you want to fight. You're more sharper and ready."

With a lead in hand in the third period, the Wild simply bear down on defense and clog up the middle, making it difficult for an opponent to get a good scoring chance.

"They are a well-coached team and stick to their system very well," John-Michael Liles said. "That neutral zone is always tough to get through."

The Avalanche thought they tied the game midway through the third, but officials waved off Milan Hejduk's apparent goal because it was played off a high stick.

"Tough call," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said.

Todd Fedoruk and Brian Rolston also scored for the Wild as the team won in a building that hasn't been friendly to them. Minnesota is 5-15-0 with two ties in 22 games at the Pepsi Center.

Then again, the Avalanche are playing without Joe Sakic (sports hernia), Ryan Smyth (fractured right ankle) and Paul Stastny (appendectomy).

"That's a lot of big guys out of their lineup," said Demitra, who also had an assist. "But they've played good games."

Andrew Brunette and Wojtek Wolski scored for Colorado.

Jose Theodore made his 10th straight start, stopping 34 shots. Yet he'd like to have a do-over on Demitra's goal.

Demitra gave Minnesota the lead for good on a nifty play midway through the second period. After Kurtis Foster's shot from the blue line bounced out of Theodore's glove, Demitra kicked the puck to himself on the other side of Theodore and knocked it into a vacant net.

"It was a bad rebound on my part," Theodore said. "I'm really frustrated about that."

Backstrom knows the feeling. The Avalanche caught a break with 28 seconds remaining in the first period when Backstrom tried to corral a shot that had slipped behind him with his stick and bumped the puck into the net.

The goal was credited to Brunette, his 10th of the season.

"It's good that it didn't decide the game," Backstrom said. "Mistakes happen, but you have to be ready for the next shot."

Rolston went nine games without a goal, but has rediscovered his touch. He's scored in three straight games, including a power-play goal in the first period against Colorado, his 17th this season.

"I knew I had to step up my game," Rolston said. "You can't go that many games without producing. It's a difficult thing scoring goals in this league. But it's nice to get back on track. I certainly want to continue that."

Notes

Colorado's T.J. Hensick was recently named to the American Hockey League All-Star Classic on Monday in Binghamton, N.Y. The forward was recalled by the Avalanche on Jan. 17. He was sent back down after the game after playing 14:11 and taking two shots on goal. ... Wild RW Mark Parrish (bruised foot) and LW Derek Boogaard (back) both missed a second straight game. ... Gaborik now has 27 assists this season. ... The Wild improved to 14-7 in one-goal games. ... Colorado is 7-3 at home against divisional opponents.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Scoreboard
Minnesota (28-19-3) 2103
Colorado (26-20-4)1102
Three Stars
P. Demitra
MIN


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
B. Rolston
MIN


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
J. Liles
COL


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 0
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
05:25Todd Fedoruk (2), Tip-In. Assist: Pavol Demitra, Nick Schultz
13:27Power Play - Brian Rolston (17), Snap Shot. Assist: Marian Gaborik, Petteri Nummelin
19:32Andrew Brunette (10), Wrist Shot. Assist: Milan Hejduk, Jaroslav Hlinka
2ND PERIOD
02:24Wojtek Wolski (14), Tip-In. Assist: Marek Svatos, Tyler Arnason
13:41Pavol Demitra (10), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kurtis Foster, Nick Schultz
3RD PERIOD
None
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
12:35Hejduk, 2 min, Hooking
19:57Svatos, 2 min, Tripping
2ND PERIOD
14:13Koivu, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
16:45Johnsson, 2 min, Hooking
19:19Svatos, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice
3RD PERIOD
None
Shots On Goal
 123T
Minnesota12151037
Colorado7121130
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Niklas Backstrom60:00282
Jose Theodore57:57343
Game Information
Attendance - 15321
Referees - Chris Lee, Kevin Pollock
Linesmen - Andy McElman, Ryan Galloway
 
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