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Avs Win Third Straight, Beat Wild 2-1 In Shootout

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -Milan Hejduk's shootout goal beat Minnesota's Manny Fernandez, and the Colorado Avalanche topped the Wild 2-1 on Saturday night.
Kyle Cumiskey scored his first career goal and Colorado goalie Peter Budaj matched Fernandez all game long with a solid performance. Budaj blocked a shot by Mikko Koivu in the second round, dropping Minnesota to 7-3 in shootouts.
Koivu, who scored his team's only goal in regulation and had another score waved off by a penalty, has three shootout winners this season.
The Wild were energized by the return of forward Marian Gaborik, who missed 34 games because of a groin injury, but they lost their second straight at home. They're still an NHL-best 17-5-1 at home.
Cumiskey, a defenseman appearing in just his third game after being called up from the minors last week, scored on a perfect behind-the-net feed from former Wild forward Andrew Brunette early in the second period to tie it at 1.
After being outshot 10-4 in the first period, the Avalanche found their legs and controlled the puck for most of the rest of the game until a late flurry by Minnesota nearly won it in regulation. Kurtis Foster's power-play shot with 30 seconds remaining clanked off the right post.
The first half of this season for the Wild has been, well, wildly inconsistent. In addition to needing better play on the road, where they are 0-9-1 in their last 10 games, they must find a way to finish off their foes better in the final period. Fifteen of their 42 games have gone to overtime.
Minnesota, Calgary and Colorado are currently in a three-team pack fighting for playoff spots, and every point their Western Conference opponents earn could prove costly.
The 24-year-old Gaborik, who signed a three-year, $19 million contract this summer, hasn't fulfilled his promise yet as Minnesota's franchise player.
After back-to-back 30-goal seasons and his selection as the Wild's first All-Star in 2003, Gaborik missed 12 games at the start of the 2003-04 season in a contract dispute. Then came the lockout. Last season he endured a 17-game absence related to a groin problem, and the injury - especially debilitating for the speedy skater - came back on Oct. 20 when he was hurt in a game at Anaheim.
Given a loud cheer when he stepped on the ice for Minnesota's fourth shift, Gaborik played mostly with fellow Slovakia native Branko Radivojevic and centers Wyatt Smith and Wes Walz.
Notes: Walz was knocked over and hit in the face by a slap shot from Radivojevic midway through the third period. After briefly writhing in pain on the ice, Walz skated off and headed to the locker room for treatment. He returned to action a couple of minutes later.
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