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Late Goal From Sakic Leads Avs To 2-1 Win At Minnesota

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Joe Sakic's goal with 5:44 remaining lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.

After Todd White tied the score earlier in the third period, the Wild put pressure on Avalanche goalie David Aebischer and had several prime chances - as they did early in the game - to take the lead.

But Aebischer, who has an 11-3-2 record since the new year began and an 8-2 career mark against Minnesota, didn't budge - helping Colorado improve to 12-3-3 in its last 18 games. He made 33 saves.

Brad Richardson also scored for the Avalanche, who stiff-armed the Wild's attempt to move closer in the Western Conference playoff race. Colorado moved ahead of idle Edmonton into sixth place with 68 points. Minnesota, with 60 points, remained stuck in 10th - five points behind Los Angeles for the final spot.

A tripping penalty on Rob Blake with 1:19 left gave the Wild a late power play. Goalie Manny Fernandez was pulled a few seconds later, giving them a 6-on-4 advantage. But in a fitting way to wrap up the evening's offensive failures, they were off target with several passes and never had any great looks among their five shots on net during the final flurry.

Minnesota peppered Aebischer early. He allowed a long rebound off a shot from the Wild blue line midway through the opening frame, and Alexandre Daigle was in a perfect place to punch it in. He lost control of the puck while switching from backhand to forehand, though, and managed a weak shot.

Minnesota had three power-play chances in the first period, too, coming up empty on all of them.

It was clearly Aebischer's night. At the end of the second, Derek Boogaard left the penalty box and found himself racing unchecked for the puck with Aebischer frantically moving out to block it. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound Boogaard was too late, and he skated into the goalie - drawing a double roughing penalty and four more minutes in the box. The crowd booed loudly in response to the call.

Even White's goal was a mild fluke. Nick Schultz broke his stick on a shot from the blue line, and the puck veered right and glanced off former Wild wing Andrew Brunette. It went right to White, who slammed it in with 9:57 to go.

But later, Marian Gaborik lost the puck to Brett Clark - who poked it ahead to a streaking Sakic up the left side. He scored his 21st goal of the season, sending a shot high past Fernandez's glove.

Notes: Wild left wing Pascal Dupuis was scratched. His wife gave birth to a son, Kody, about two hours before the game. ... The Avalanche are 23-1-1 when leading after two periods. ... White has 18 goals this season, 11 in the third period.

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