Bruce Bisping/Minneapolis Star Tribune
The Colorado Avalanche's Ben Guite, left, trips the Minnesota Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard in the first period of Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on Wednesday. The Avalanche won in overtime, 3-2.
Joe Sakic added another line to his amazing playoff resume.
Sakic tipped in a shot by Ruslan Salei from the point midway through the first overtime period, his eighth career playoff goal in extra time, to send the Colorado Avalanche past the Minnesota Wild, 3-2, on Wednesday night.
The goal came at 11:11 of overtime and gave Colorado a 1-0 lead in this first-round series. Game 2 is at Minnesota on Friday.
Colorado welcomed Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote back in February to reunite that outstanding core with Sakic for maybe their last crack together at another title. The Avalanche got strong goaltending by Jose Theodore down the stretch and entered the playoffs poised, experienced and perhaps even the favorite in this matchup.
The division-champion Wild, who won the season series, 5-2-1, were dealt a devastating setback this week when shutdown defenseman Nick Schultz needed an appendectomy. He was to be a critical check against Colorado's potent, slick-passing attack.
The Wild did just that four years ago, when they rallied from a 3-1 deficit and stunned the NHL by beating the Avalanche in the first round on their way to the Western Conference finals.
Kurt Sauer, who scored only once this season, got the first goal for Colorado. Ryan Smyth followed with a power-play deflection, and the Avalanche were up 2-0 in the second period with only seven shots on net at that point.
The Wild surged back after the second intermission. Mikko Koivu, with help from Avs defenseman Chris Finger's skate, and Todd Fedoruk had goals to tie it - and offset the loss of net crasher Mark Parrish to what the team called a head injury in the second period.
The Avs had three chances to win it near the end of regulation. David Jones kicked in a loose puck, which was waved off. Then, Milan Hejduk's deflection of Finger's slap shot clanked off the post.
Finally, Smyth was awarded a penalty shot with 2:27 remaining following a scrum around the crease, but Niklas Backstrom smothered his right-then-left attempt to sneak the puck around his stick.
Without Schultz, the lesser defensemen were forced into more minutes, and without Parrish, coach Jacques Lemaire was essentially limited to three lines. The Wild, though, were consistently aggressive and controlled the flow for most of regulation.
The Avs made their early chances count.
Smooth-skating, savvy old Sakic, who with Forsberg and Foote has won two Stanley Cups with Colorado, found a streaking Sauer in perfect position for a one-timer that went high over Backstrom's head for the early lead.
Soon after, Parrish was tangled up with Ruslan Salei near the Wild bench and lost his balance before banging hard into the boards and bouncing back onto the ice. He needed a few minutes to sit up and required help to walk to the training room.