The feeling of relief in the Colorado Avalanche's dressing room after Friday night's game had nothing to do with their 4-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild.
Craig Anderson made 32 saves to help Colorado beat the Wild in a victory tempered by the loss of second-year center Ryan O'Reilly after he crashed headfirst into the boards neat the Colorado blue line in the second period.
Colorado led 2-0 when O'Reilly was taken off the ice on a stretcher after losing his balance and slamming into the boards. Coach Joe Sacco said afterwards that O'Reilly had movement in his arms and legs. He was taken to Regions Hospital as a precaution.
"He was moving and it sounds like he's OK," Anderson said. "You've got to find a way to pick him up. It was our job and our duty to win the game for him."
Kevin Porter, Milan Hejduk, Tomas Fleischmann and Ryan Wilson scored for Colorado, while only Andrew Brunette was able to beat Anderson.
The Wild, playing without starting goalie Niklas Backstrom and backup Jose Theodore due to injury, had to use Russian rookie Anton Khodobin in net. They paid the price when Khudobin led Fleischmann's bouncer from the blue line hop between his legs at 14:45 of the second period for a 3-0 lead.
"One goal, but sometimes the goalie has to shut the door. That's the way it works sometimes," Khudobin said.
The Wild were booed by their fans after the second period. They are 3-6-1 in their last 10 home games. Their only goal came 4:14 into the third period when Mikko Koivu's spinning pass from behind the net set up Brunette's goal.
"It's not because of lack of effort or caring," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "We created chances and that's what you want to do. We need either that extra effort to finish or we need a fortuitous bounce."
Colorado winger Chris Stewart played his first game since injuring his hand fighting the Wild's Kyle Brodziak on Nov. 27. Stewart was Colorado's leading scorer when he was injured. Cody McLeod also returned after missing the last eight games with a groin injury.
Avalanche coach Joe Sacco was glad to have both guys back, but said his biggest task was to keep his team focused after O'Reilly was injured.
"What I tried to do right after that happened and he went off was just tell the guys that he was going to be fine and make sure that we stayed strong within the game," Sacco said. "Sometimes you tend to drift a little bit when you see a teammate go off like that. It's just human nature."
Minnesota has scored just once in each of its last three games.
"We're just not scoring goals," center John Madden said. "We hit three goalposts in the first period I think and pucks are going just wide, so we're not getting any bounces. You can't score one goal a game and expect to win."