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Avalanche Rally Falls Short In 4-3 Loss To Wild

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche

DENVER (AP) -Niklas Backstrom stopped 28 shots and Wyatt Smith scored his first goal in 92 games as the Minnesota Wild withstood a third-period charge by the Colorado Avalanche for a 4-3 win on Thursday night.

Minnesota has won nine of its past 12 road games since ending an 11-game road winless streak on Jan. 11. The Wild are 8-2-1 in their past 11 games.

Adam Hall, Todd White and Mikko Koivu also scored for the Wild. Mark Parrish had two assists.

Backstrom made his 10th straight start filling in for the injured Manny Fernandez, who's out with a left knee sprain.

Ken Klee and Brad Richardson scored 2:28 apart to pull the Avalanche within a goal, but Koivu restored a two-goal lead at the 17:46 mark of the third. Marek Svatos scored 29 seconds later after Colorado pulled goalie Peter Budaj to make it 4-3.

The Avalanche pulled Budaj again with 43 seconds left, but couldn't score. Budaj finished with 19 saves.

Smith and White scored 1:19 apart in the second period to give the Wild a 3-0 lead.

Smith hadn't scored since Feb. 13, 2004, when he was with Nashville. He backhanded a shot over Budaj's shoulder.

Hall scored his second goal since the Wild acquired him from the New York Rangers for Pascal Dupuis on Feb. 9.

Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny each extended their points streaks to 10 games with assists. Stastny's streak is the longest by an Avalanche rookie since the team moved to Denver in 1995.

Stastny finished with two assists. Andrew Brunette also had two assists for Colorado.

Notes: Colorado rookie F Wojtek Wolski missed his third game with a mild concussion. He suffered the injury after a collision with Calgary's Craig Conroy on Feb. 17. ... Minnesota D Kim Johnsson played in his 500th career game Thursday night. ... Colorado is now 12-4-2 all time against Minnesota at home. ... Svatos scored for the second straight game. He'd been benched recently for a lack of scoring.

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