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Colorado
Avalanche
44-31-7
Minnesota
Wild
44-28-10

game recap

Wild 3, Avalanche 1

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:52 AM

Associated Press

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Wild 3, Avalanche 1
Colorado Avalanche 1, Minnesota Wild 3

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -The NHL playoffs start April 9. In the Northwest Division, it's almost as if they've already begun.

Brent Burns and Branko Radivojevic both scored and Niklas Backstrom stopped 29 shots for the Minnesota Wild to give them a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche and break a three-way tie for first place.

The game began a final stretch that features four teams with division title aspirations, and none with a playoff spot locked up.

"It's exactly like a playoff game," Minnesota forward Brian Rolston said. "The good thing about all of us being around the 84(-point) mark is we'll all be playoff ready. These last nine games will be a playoff game every night because we're all fighting, scratching and clawing to get into the playoffs."

The Wild have 86 points, two ahead of Colorado and Calgary and four in front of Vancouver, which holds the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Avs began a stretch of nine straight games against division opponents to end the season on Monday, while the Flames and Vancouver will also finish out with nine straight against Northwest foes. Minnesota will finish off with eight consecutive division games and has a four-game road trip next - with stops in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary before coming home for four of its last five.

"We know that we're leaving tomorrow for four games on the road," Backstrom said. "We needed this win. We needed the two points. It's good for us. We got it in regulation. It's good to move on and get ready for Wednesday. It's good for our confidence to show we can play against these clubs. We know how we should play against them."

The Wild had not beaten a team currently in the playoffs since Feb. 14, making Monday's two points even more important.

Minnesota, which had lost nine of 13, killed off a pair of early penalties, then scored on Burns' goal at 8:54 on the its first power play. The Wild had not scored in their previous 18 power-play chances at home.

Joe Sakic tied the score on a power play at 4:51 of the second period, but Radivojevic tipped in a Burns' pass at 9:42 of the period for the eventual game-winner.

Stephane Veilleux scored an empty-net goal from the opposite circle with 6.4 seconds remaining for the final tally.

Colorado entered the game with the worst road power play in the league at 11.2 percent. The Avs converted only one of six chances, but missed on a crucial advantage with six minutes remaining in the third.

"We'll execute that and find ways to capitalize on it because it's very important down the stretch and in the playoffs," Colorado forward Ryan Smyth said. "It was a crucial part of today's game."

The Wild has killed 10 of 11 power plays the last two games - its first back-to-back home victories in regulation since Dec. 18 and 20.

"We had talked about getting some points lately that would build up our confidence, and that's what we did," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "Confidence was better, now we've got to stay with this and not think we can play any way we want and win. We still have to play a team game."

Jose Theodore stopped 26 shots, including a brilliant sliding save of Pierre-Marc Bouchard's backhand that kept the Avs in the game with eight minutes to play.

But the Avs missed several empty net chances in the final minute and lost for just the third time in their last 11 games.

"We played the way we were hoping to play," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "You play like that, that's a recipe for success. I think we'll build off the things we did well."

Notes: Avs center Peter Forsberg was back in the lineup after missing four games with a groin injury. Courted by the Wild before the trade deadline, Forsberg was booed by Minnesota fans whenever he touched the puck and drew a loud ovation when he was called for a diving penalty in the second period. ... Wild forward Derek Boogaard returned to action for the first time since Jan. 22 at Calgary. He missed 23 games with a bulging disc. ... Colorado defenseman Jordan Leopold, who played college hockey at the University of Minnesota, missed his fourth straight games with concussion-like symptoms despite practicing at full speed on Sunday.

scoring summary
1st Period
08:54
MIN
PPG - Brent Burns (14) ASST: Brian Rolston (24), James Sheppard (14)
1 - 0 MIN
2nd Period
04:51
COL
PPG - Joe Sakic (11) ASST: Paul Stastny (40), John-Michael Liles (25)
1 - 1 Tie
09:42
MIN
Branko Radivojevic (5) ASST: Brent Burns (26), Mikko Koivu (24)
2 - 1 MIN
3rd Period
19:53
MIN
EN - Stephane Veilleux (10) ASST: NONE
3 - 1 MIN
penalty summary
1st Period
01:06
MIN
Kurtis Foster  Cross checking against  Andrew Brunette
02:26
MIN
Brent Burns  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
07:23
COL
Paul Stastny  Hooking against  Pierre-Marc Bouchard
10:17
MIN
Keith Carney  Hooking against  Cody McLeod
18:45
COL
Cody McCormick  Holding against  Nick Schultz
2nd Period
03:49
MIN
Mark Parrish  Hooking against  Adam Foote
13:59
MIN
Mikko Koivu  Interference against  Peter Forsberg
13:59
COL
Peter Forsberg  Diving against  Mikko Koivu
16:05
MIN
Pavol Demitra  Hooking against  Joe Sakic
3rd Period
03:27
COL
Ian Laperriere  Interference against  Pavol Demitra
13:51
MIN
Pierre-Marc Bouchard  Hooking against  Peter Forsberg
goalie stats
Jose Theodore
SA: 28TOI: 58:35
Saves: 26EV: 19 - 20
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 6
SV%: .929SH: 2 - 2
Niklas Backstrom
SA: 30TOI: 59:57
Saves: 29EV: 20 - 20
PIM: 0PP: 8 - 9
SV%: .967SH: 1 - 1