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Wild's Cooke, Avalanche's Barrie put incident in past

by Dan Myers / NHL.com

AVALANCHE (0-0-0) at WILD (0-0-0)

TV: NBCSN

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- At the time, Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy called it the turning point of their Stanley Cup Playoff series.

With the Avalanche leading the Minnesota Wild 2-0 in the best-of-seven Western Conference First Round series, defenseman Tyson Barrie took a knee-on-knee check from Wild forward Matt Cooke, knocking Barrie from the series and, as it turned out, the remainder of the season, as Minnesota rallied to win the series in seven games.

Cooke was suspended seven games by the NHL and returned later in the playoffs, as the Wild exited in the second round against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"That was, mentally, probably the toughest thing I've gone through," Barrie said. "But you have to let it go. This is a new season, a new team and we've got a good young exciting team and that’s not going to be our last time in the playoffs."

As the Wild and Avalanche prepare to open the regular season against each other Thursday at Xcel Energy Center, Barrie said the incident is in the past. Roy said he's talked with Barrie about it and feels the defenseman has moved on.

"The League did what they had to do," Roy said. "We just want to play a solid game. That's what our focus is and that's what it should be."

"This is a new team and I don't want to take any of the attention off what we're trying to do and that's win the games," Barrie said. "I'm not going to do anything to take the attention away from that; we've addressed it and it's behind us. It is what it is."

Cooke has maintained all along that the hit was not intentional. He said it was hard dealing with the consequences but understood why he was suspended.

"It's amazing how a split second either way, hits could be drastically different. It's just trying to make the right decisions in your brain before you put yourself in that position," Cooke said. "The League made a decision and I had to live with it. At the end of the day, I have a job to do and that's to help my team win. I have to go out and prepare that way, I can't really worry about anything else."

Wild coach Mike Yeo said he expects little in the way of retribution Thursday. He defended Cooke and the work he did to change the way he plays the game. He said the incident last season doesn't change his opinion on that.

"This is a guy who has made a career out of playing a hard game," Yeo said. "What happened last year was unfortunate, but he's been in a situation before where he was able to come back and play a hard game and a strong game, but at the same time he was able to walk the line and make sure he didn't go over it."

Here are the projected lineups for the game Thursday:

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Nathan MacKinnon

Alex Tanguay -- Matt Duchene -- Jarome Iginla

Jamie McGinn -- Daniel Briere -- Maxime Talbot

Cody McLeod -- Marc-Andre Cliche -- Dennis Everberg

Erik Johnson -- Brad Stuart

Tyson Barrie - Nick Holden

Nate Guenin -- Jan Hejda

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: Zach Redmond, Ryan Wilson

Injured: John Mitchell (migraines), Jesse Winchester (concussion), Patrick Bordeleau (back surgery)

WILD

Zach Parise -- Mikael Granlund -- Jason Pominville

Matt Cooke -- Mikko Koivu -- Thomas Vanek

Nino Niederreiter -- Erik Haula -- Charlie Coyle

Jason Zucker -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter -- Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella -- Jared Spurgeon

Matt Dumba -- Christian Folin

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Stu Bickel, Nate Prosser, Keith Ballard

Injured: Justin Fontaine (lower body), Josh Harding (broken foot)

Status report: Thursday marks the Colorado debut Iginla, who couldn't have picked a better opponent to open against. Iginla is the all-time leader against the Wild in goals (37), points (67), shots (236) and game-winning goals (10), tied for first in plus-minus rating (plus-19), second in power-play goals (10) and third in assists (30). … Fontaine took part in the morning skate Thursday as he continues to recover from a lower-body injury. The Wild play the Avalanche in Denver on Saturday, but have a week off after, so they may give Fontaine that extra time to heal before putting him in the lineup. … Yeo said the decision to go with Kuemper in goal over Backstrom on Thursday wasn't as easy one, but was made with last season's playoffs in mind. Kuemper went 3-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and one shutout against the Avs at Xcel Energy Center during that series. Backstrom is 11-3-1 in his career at the Pepsi Center, so there's a strong chance he plays in the rematch.

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