ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Marian Gaborik rarely kills penalties.
After his latest performance, it might become a much more common
Gaborik's second career short-handed goal, scored in the third
period, was the winner as the Minnesota Wild beat the Colorado
Avalanche 5-3 on Sunday.
With the Wild killing a four-minute power play, Gaborik took a
pass from Wes Walz on a 2-on-1 break and snapped a 3-3 tie to give
Minnesota its first post-Olympics victory. If it had been a simple
minor penalty, Gaborik might not have been on the ice.
"He hadn't been playing well defensively, so when I put him out
there, it was a risk," said Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire, who
earned his 400th NHL win. "But we had four minutes to go, so I
couldn't go with just four guys, I had to go with six guys."
Walz scored twice for Minnesota, which was playing at home for
the first time since Feb. 9.
Alex Tanguay had three assists for the Avalanche, who lost for
the second time in two nights. Colorado was beaten 4-1 at Dallas on
Saturday, starting a stretch in which the Avalanche will play nine
of 10 on the road.
Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said the Wild used Colorado's
formula of clutch offense to get the victory.
"We've been fortunate to get the timely goal, but tonight they
did," he said. "Anytime you get a short-handed goal it's going to
swing the game."
Colorado used a 5-on-3 power play to open the scoring, when
Andrew Brunette lifted a backhand shot over goaltender Manny
Fernandez and into the upper left corner of the net. It was
Colorado's only goal on six man-advantage situations.
"Our power play was not very effective," Quenneville said.
"That's disappointing. But we played a pretty good game. If we can
fix our power play, I think we'll be OK."
Walz converted on a 2-on-1 break a short time later. He fumbled
a shot at the rebound of a blast by Gaborik, barely getting his
stick on the puck, but his momentum carried the puck under David
Aebischer's stick and over the goal line.
"I fanned on the shot off the rebound, but I just happened to
get enough on it to get it over the goal line," said Walz, who
notched his second multigoal game in a month.
Ian Laperriere put the Avalanche back up 2-1 with a wrist shot,
but Walz scored again before the period ended. He chased down a
dump-in pass by Randy Robitaille and fired a rising shot that beat
Aebischer on the stick side.
Minnesota recorded the only goal of the second period to take a
3-2 lead as Wild defenseman Nick Schultz scored for just the second
time this season. His shot from the high slot was blocked by
Avalanche defenseman Patrice Brisebois, but Schultz corralled the
rebound and whistled a low drive past Aebischer's glove.
Aebischer, who stopped Gaborik on a third-period breakaway, had
26 saves but lost to the Wild for the first time this season.
Fernandez also had 26 saves.
To make room for former Islanders forward Mattias
Weinhandl, claimed off waivers on Saturday, the Wild placed RW
Alexandre Daigle on waivers. Daigle, who signed with the Wild as a
free agent in 2003, has five goals and 23 assists this season. ...
Avalanche C Joe Sakic was kept off the scoresheet but has 27 points
in 25 career games against Minnesota. ... In separate third-period
incidents, Tanguay and Minnesota D Kurtis Foster both received
four-minute penalties for high sticking.