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Avs Return To Action, Beat Wild 4-2

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche
DENVER (AP) - Milan Hejduk had a goal and an assist and David Aebischer stopped 33 shots as the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Tuesday night.

Aebischer improved to 4-0 against the Wild this year and has allowed only six goals in those games. He is 9-2-0 against Minnesota.

Rob Blake, Brad May and Andrew Brunette had goals. Joe Sakic added three assists for the Avalanche.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Marian Gaborik had power play goals for Minnesota as Jacques Lemaire failed to earn his 400th coaching win.

Minnesota took a 1-0 lead with a power play goal by Bouchard at 15:12 of the first period. Bouchard froze Colorado defenseman Patrice Brisebois just inside the blue line and skated to the upper left circle to beat Aebischer with a slap shot.

The goal awakened the sluggish Avalanche and Blake and May scored 52 seconds apart. Blake banged back a rebound after goalie Manny Fernandez stopped Hejduk's shot at 16:38 and then May scored after Dan Hinote delivered a pass to him from behind the net.

Hejduk made it 3-1 only 52 seconds into the second period with a shot that caromed off the left post and into the back of the net. The Wild failed to capitalize on a double-minor high-sticking penalty on Brunette midway through the period

Aebischer survived a 20-second stretch without a stick when the Wild kept the puck deep inside the Colorado zone with under six minutes left. Defenseman Karlis Skrastins stopped one shot with his body during the flurry.

Gaborik cut it to 3-2 with a power play goal with 1:22 left. Brunette sealed the game with an empty net goal with 38 seconds left.


Colorado improved to 5-1 against the Wild this season and 19-3-3-2 in 27 all-time meetings...The Avs are 15-6-2 against the Northwest Division this year, including 10-1-2 at home...David Aebischer is 4-0 in four starts versus the Wild this season and 9-2-0 in 12 career games against Minnesota...Rob Blake scored his 197th career goal, tying Mark Howe for 17th place all-time among defenseman...He entered the game tied with Scott Stevens (196) for 18th place on that list...Blake needs three more for No. 200...Joe Sakic had a season-high three assists tonight, giving him 898 for his career, two shy of becoming only the 16th player in NHL history to record 900 assists...Sakic extended his point streak to five games tonight (1g, 7a)...Brad May scored his third goal of the season tonight, and first since Nov 25 at Columbus, ending a 24-game drought...Milan Hejduk notched his 214th career goal tonight, two shy of tying Peter Forsberg (216) for fifth place on the franchise's all-time goal-scoring list.


David Aebischer: "We knew it wasn't going to be easy coming into tonight. I thought we played pretty well. The only problem was I forgot you couldn't play the puck behind the net, that's the only problem I had. Before the game, I told myself to watch out for those lines but I don't know what happened. We play pretty well every time we play them. I made the saves I had to and we scored some goals against a team which is not easy to score against."

Milan Hejduk: On The Playoff Race... "Pretty much in all of March we are on the road. These two points are really important for us. And now every game is really important. It's a battle for a playoff spot. Every two points are huge. The race is tight and it's going to go down to the wire." On Playing On The Smaller NHL Ice Surface... "It's a different game. The altitude is the same there. It's a different game. You don't have to skate as much but there's more stop-and-starts."

Brad May: On His Goal... "It was a good play. I think we made the right decision getting it into the zone. Brad (Richardson) made a good play getting it back behind the net. It's just nice to be a part of it and factor in the scoresheet." General... "Every point is so important now. I think we have to start gearing up for that playoff drive. There's 22 games to go and you have to play well over .500 to catch that spot. There's no question we're chasing Calgary and Vancouver. It just makes for great rivalries and a lot of fun."

Manny Fernandez: "It's going to be an advantage for the guys who went (to the Olympics) for a while. For me, it's too bad we did have that break. We didn't need it. But we try to look at the positives that we got some rest. Tonight was a challenge. I don't know how everyone else feels but personally it's not easy to come back after two weeks of shut-down and eight days of not doing anything. You try your best, you try to do everything you can in practice and you try to get your game back on. But sometimes it's not enough to get everything done."

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