Avalanche 5, Wild 1

By: AP
By: AP

Jacques Lemaire paced the bench late in the game, chomping hard on his gum as he glanced at the clock, trying to will it to count down faster.

The Minnesota Wild coach couldn't wait for this game marred with penalties and punches to finally finish. He was tired of watching his players parade to the penalty box.

Colorado frustrated the Wild in a 5-1 win on Tuesday night, as the Avalanche evened the series at 2-2.

Minnesota was called for a staggering 111 minutes in penalties, including 24 by Derek Boogaard, who was ejected, and 35 by Stephane Veilleux.

"The more they got frustrated, the more we got penalties," Lemaire said. "It never stopped."

The cooler heads of the Avalanche prevailed, as they only amassed 43 minutes worth of penalties.

The feisty mood by Minnesota was easy to explain -- the Avalanche staged a dominating performance.

Colorado jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period on goals from Andrew Brunette, Wojtek Wolski and Tyler Arnason and never looked back.

Ruslan Salei and Milan Hejduk added goals in the second period and the rout was on. It got so bad that goalie Niklas Backstrom was given the third period off as backup Josh Harding spelled him.

"That's kind of what happens when you get up five goals," said Peter Forsberg, who didn't play in the third period to rest before Game 5 in Minnesota on Thursday night. "It's just going to happen. If we were down, it would probably happen the same way."

Minnesota played like an exhausted team. Then again, the Wild had five players skate at least 25 minutes in a 3-2 overtime win in Game 3. Less than 21 hours later, they were back on the ice.

Yet Lemaire wouldn't use fatigue as a convenient excuse.

"They have certain guys ... they're not young, either, and they played great," Lemaire said. "They (the Wild) have to be ready to play."

Avalanche goalie Jose Theodore is proving to be impenetrable early. He's yet to allow a goal in the first 40 minutes of play in the series against the Wild.

However, Mikko Koivu slid a short-handed goal past Theodore early in the third period. Theodore has given up all nine of his goals to the Wild in the third period or overtime.

"I was just trying to stay focused," said Theodore, who stopped 24 shots. "Even though you're up 3-0 or 4-0, you know how quick a turnaround can happen. A couple of shots and it's 4-2. You have to be focused as a goalie. You want to stop the puck."

As the game wore on, the chippiness became more intense. The third period was less about scoring goals as ducking punches.

Ian Laperriere and Veilleux had the final dance of the night, waltzing around as they tried to grab each other's sweaters and land a punch. It was a fitting end as both drew misconduct penalties.

Laperriere went after Veilleux because he was miffed about an earlier hit on Paul Stastny.

"He asked me if I wanted to go," Laperriere said. "That's the way we do it. He was man enough to drop his gloves and take his helmet off and I respect him a lot. I know him. I didn't like the hit he took on Paul, and it's part of my job to let him know that."

Veilleux chalked up the rough play to playoff hockey.

"Guys start hitting and it becomes intense hockey," he said. "They came out harder than us."

Although both teams were on edge as the final horn sounded, Colorado coach Joel Quenneville doesn't expect it to carry over into Game 5.

"I think the score had everything to do with what happened at the end of the game," Quenneville said. "Those things happen in a playoff series. We've got to be smart. I wouldn't expect that being a factor going forward. There's a little emotion that builds up over the course of a playoff series. We want to make sure we continue to be disciplined."


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