Jose Theodore and the Colorado Avalanche withstood another onslaught from the relentless Minnesota Wild for a series-clinching 2-1 win Saturday night.
Theodore stopped 34 shots, including a glove save off Kim Johnsson's shot with 21 seconds left and the Avs took the series in six games.
The Wild won their first division crown this season but Minnesota held a lead in the series for only 4 minutes, 31 seconds out of a possible 384:23, and not a single second on this night.
Minnesota, playing with an extra attacker over the final minute, accidentally sent seven men onto the ice for the final face-off on the right circle in the Avalanche end before Aaron Voros was shooed back to the bench, and the Wild never managed a shot before the horn went off.
Ben Guite and Ryan Smyth scored goals for Colorado, which heads into the second round riding a three-game winning streak and a red-hot goaltender.
The Wild lost their cool in Game 4, when they were whistled for 111 penalty minutes in Denver, and they never recovered, losing the next two despite regaining their discipline and peppering Theodore with plenty of pucks.
Minnesota had just three minor penalties on this night and Colorado just one.
But Theodore's game sizzled once again.
Minnesota scored just two goals total in the first two periods of the six games off Theodore, whose otherworldly performance allowed the Avs to steal Game 5 in St. Paul.
He didn't have to be quite such a savior Saturday night as the Avalanche tightened up their play, but he still had to make several spectacular saves for Colorado to clinch a second-round series against an opponent yet to be determined.
Smyth's one-timer from the left circle off a behind-the-net pass from David Jones broke a 1-1 tie in the second period and energized both the Avalanche and the Pepsi Center crowd. Before that goal, the action was mostly in the Avalanche zone as the Wild outshot Colorado 15-8 in the period and erased a 1-0 deficit with a goal just 36 seconds in.
In the third period, Peter Forsberg had a terrific back-hander, but it hit the post with about 8:20 remaining, and the final minutes were a frenzy as the Wild scrambled to catch up.
After getting 42 goals and 41 assists in a career-best regular season, Wild forward Marian Gaborik was still looking for his first point of the postseason when he assisted on Voros' tying goal. Pavol Demitra ignited a 3-on-2 break and passed to Gaborik, who fed Voros for a goal past Theodore's glove side for a 1-1 tie.
Minnesota had another odd-man break later in the period but, and this one was short-handed, but Ruslan Salei recovered in time to thwart the breakaway goal.
For the sixth straight game, the Avalanche struck first, this time on a short-handed wrister by Guite, who took a perfect pass from Joe Sakic after the Avs captain stole the pass at the Colorado blue line and fed to Guite for his 100th career playoff assist.
The Avs had a chance to double their lead in the waning seconds of the period on the power play, but Niklas Backstrom, who stopped 28 shots, made an outstanding save of Salei's shot from just outside the crease to keep it a one-goal game.
The Wild got a boost when defenseman Nick Schultz returned to the ice less than two weeks after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.
During his absence, the Wild's depth on defense was a big concern. The blueliners forced into extended playing time performed impressively over the first few games, but they seemed to lose their energy and focus in Game 4 before bouncing back in Game 5.
But his return wasn't enough to send the series back to St. Paul for a Game 7.
Notes:@ Minnesota prevailed in the only other playoff series between these teams, in 2003, when the Wild rallied from a 3-1 deficit and won Game 7 in overtime on Andrew Brunette's shot past Patrick Roy, the last goal surrendered by the Hall of Famer. ... The Avs advanced beyond the first round for the ninth time in 11 trips to the playoffs since 1996. ... Sakic tied Bryan Trottier (184) for ninth place on the all-time playoff scoring list. ... Colorado D Scott Hannan took a stick to the face from Voros but returned to the ice.
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