- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ST. PAUL, MINN. (AP) - Marek Zidlicky scored the shootout winner over Peter Budaj’s glove, and Nick Schultz scored the tying goal with less than two minutes left in regulation in the Minnesota Wild ‘s 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

Mikko Koivu and Zidlicky both scored in the shootout to give Minnesota a crucial two points.

Niklas Backstrom stopped 24 shots for the win and stopped Milan Hejduk and Marek Svatos following Wojtek Wolski’s shootout goal. The win moved the Wild past St. Louis and Edmonton and into a tie with Dallas for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot _ with all three teams still in action late Tuesday.

Peter Budaj finished with 26 saves but was denied the victory after winning three of his four previous games. Ryan Smyth scored his team-leading 26th goal of the season and Cody McLeod scored his first goal since Feb. 5, but Colorado dropped to 3-8-1 in its last 12 contests.

Minnesota, playing at home after nine of 10 on the road, improved to 3-5-4 in its last 11 games but avenged a 2-1 shootout loss to the Avalanche in Denver on March 12. The home points are even more critical considering the Wild returns to the road for five of its next six games.

Minnesota came back twice in the game after first falling behind at 9:21 of the second period. Colorado got the scoring started when McLeod’s centering attempt from behind the net hit Backstrom and flipped high off the ice and fluttered over the Minnesota netminder. The tally was only McLeod’s second point in his previous 16 games.

Stephane Veilleux’s goal from Martin Skoula and Eric Belanger tied the score less than two minutes later, but Smyth scored for the second straight game at 13:51 to pull the Avalanche back in front.

Smyth tipped Wolski’s shot from the high slot from in front of the crease with his back turned to the net, beating Backstrom between the pads.

Colorado killed a pair of ensuing penalties, but Schultz’s slapshot found an opening above Budaj’s right shoulder to tie the score and set up overtime.

The Wild improved to 4-1-1 against the Avalanche this season, and 8-1-2 in the last 11 meetings.

Notes: Avalanche D Daniel Tjarnqvist was scratch due to a gash above his eye suffered on Sunday in Vancouver. … Fellow D Adam Foote missed his third game due to a head injury, prompting Colorado to call up Lake Erie D Derek Peltier, a native of Plymouth, Minn. and a University of Minnesota alum. Peltier and D Mike Vernace, who was called up from Lake Erie on Monday, both made their NHL debuts on Tuesday. … RW Darcy Tucker was a healthy scratch for just the second time this season despite scoring goals in each of the Avalanche’s previous two contests. … Minnesota D Kurtis Foster made his home debut and played for just the second time this season following an extended rehab from a broken leg suffered March 19, 2008 at San Jose. Foster played at Los Angeles on March 7, but was scratched in the Wild’s ensuing five games.

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