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Stastny Leads Avalanche to 5-4 OT Win over Wild

Updated: 04/18/2014 1:34 PM
Created: 04/17/2014 7:03 AM KSTP.com

Paul Stastny scored 7:27 into overtime after tying the game with 13.4 seconds remaining in regulation, lifting the Colorado Avalanche to a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild in the opener of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Thursday night.

Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn also added goals for Colorado in Patrick Roy's postseason debut behind the bench.

The Hall of Fame goaltender led the Avalanche to two Stanley Cup titles as a player.

Erik Haula, Charlie Coyle, Ryan Suter and Kyle Brodziak scored for the Wild.

Game 2 is Saturday.

Stastny beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a close-in wrist shot in overtime, the same type of play Stastny used to tie the game in regulation.

Roy made a bold move with 3:01 remaining, pulling Semyon Varlamov for an extra skater. Erik Johnson saved a potential empty-net goal with over a minute left as he raced down the ice and slapped away the puck just before it crossed the goal line.

Moments later, Stastny beat Bryzgalov with a shot over his shoulder - the capacity crowd erupted.

The Wild took a 4-2 lead after a three-goal second period. They spent the final period trying to play a prevent defense, not allowing the Avalanche to take advantage of their quickness.

O'Reilly stole the puck from Brodziak and slid it over to McGinn, who batted it past Bryzgalov to make it a one-goal game at 12:47.

Roy hardly played things by the book as the team tied a franchise record with 52 wins in the regular season. That gambler's mentality certainly didn't change in the postseason. Roy said before the game that it was his job to "have a 'B' plan and a 'C' plan in our pocket" in case of an emergency.

In this case, it was pulling Varlamov with plenty of time remaining.

It almost backfired when the Wild sent a puck rolling toward the goal. Johnson chased it down and knocked the puck away before it crossed the line. He also bumped the goal off its moorings. Matt Cooke took a shot on the goal with Johnson lying in front of the net, which upset a few Avalanche players and led to some pushing and shoving.

Although the underdog in the series, the Wild were actually one of the hottest teams down the stretch as they fought just to get into the playoffs. Bryzgalov provided a spark after he was acquired from Edmonton in early March. He went 7-1-3 down the stretch.

But Bryzgalov has been inconsistent in the postseason over his career. He's 17-20 and has allowed 109 goals.

Landeskog's first playoff goal midway through the opening period was set up by his big hit along the boards, jarring the puck loose from Jonas Brodin. The Avs cycled it up top and then down low to Stastny, who passed the puck to an open Landeskog in front of the net.

The lead didn't last long as two minutes later Coyle tied the game when he lined a shot into the corner with Varlamov scrambling to get up.

The Avs were a little tentative to start the game, possibly a result of nerves. Half of Colorado's roster has never experienced the postseason, including Landeskog. The Avs captain said the key for the youthful team was to keep their emotions in check, without "playing like a robot."

NOTES: Earlier in the day, Wild players wore shirts that featured a picture of the Stanley Cup on the back with the slogan, "Take it baby!" above the coveted trophy. ... Wild F Zach Parise had two assists. ... The Avs were without F John Mitchell (head) and D Cory Sarich (back). They were already missing leading scorer Matt Duchene (knee). ... Avs rookie Nathan MacKinnon finished with three assists.

Minnesota will host playoff games at Xcel Energy Center Monday and Thursday. The schedule for the series can be seen below.

Game 1 - Avalanche 5, Wild 4 (F/OT)

Game 2 - Saturday, 4/19 - at Colorado, 8:30 p.m.

Game 3 - Monday, 4/21 - at Xcel Energy Center, 6 p.m.

Game 4 - Thursday, 4/24 - at Xcel Energy Center, 8:30 p.m.

Game 5* - Saturday, 4/26 - at Colorado, TBA

Game 6* - Monday, 4/28 - at Xcel Energy Center, TBA

Game 7* - Wednesday, 4/30 - at Colorado, TBA

(* if needed)

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) ducks under Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda (8), from the Czech Republic, during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series on Thursday, April 17, 2014, in Denver.
Photo: AP/Jack Dempsey

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