The Colorado Avalanche joined the Detroit Red Wings in exiting the playoffs early, falling in overtime of Game Seven to the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild became just the eighth team in NHL history to bounce back from a 3-1 series deficit with two wins on the road. They defeated the Avalanche, 3-2, in Games Five, Six and Seven.
After winning Game Six in overtime just over one day earlier, the Wild stuck with the Avalanche to force the overtime period, where Andrew Brunette deked out Colorado netminder Patrick Roy and won the series.
Brunette skated down the left side of the Colorado zone after picking up the puck from Sergei Zholtok. He switched to his backhand as he skated around a sprawling Patrick Roy and slid the puck into the net.
“I was going to shoot from out, but I didn’t think I would have a great shot,” said Brunette. “I didn’t think I could beat him, so I tried to go to old faithful.”
Colorado had their chances to put the Wild away. They scored the first goal of the game 6:16 into the second period when Peter Forsberg knocked in the rebound from a Joe Sakic shot. After the Wild tied it, the Avs reclaimed the lead when Sakic one-timed a pass from Alex Tanguay past Minnesota goaltender Manny Fernandez while on a 4-on-3 power play with only 6:45 left in the third.
The Wild never quit. They tied the game at one when Pascal Dupuis sliped a backhander past Roy while on the power play. Marian Gaborik’s power-play rebound goal tied the game at two with 4:28 remaining in regulation.
“We are a resilient group,” Brunette said.
The Avalanche became the second Western Conference team to be upset in the first round following the Red Wings’ four-game loss to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. It was Colorado’s second-straight Game Seven loss after bowing out to the Red Wings in the seventh game of the Western Conference Finals last season.
The Wild will advance to play the Vancouver Canucks, who defeated the St. Louis Blues in Game Seven of their series. The West’s other matchup will feature the Mighty Ducks and the Dallas Stars.