Avalanche 4, Wild 1

After the Colorado Avalanche learned that Ryan O’Reilly was
going to be fine, they picked up right where they left off before
he got hurt.

Craig Anderson made 32 saves to help Colorado beat the Minnesota
Wild 4-1 on Friday night, a victory tempered by the loss of
O’Reilly after he crashed headfirst into the boards.

Colorado led 2-0 early in the second period when O’Reilly was
taken off the ice on a stretcher after losing his balance and
slamming into the boards. A team official said O’Reilly had
movement in his arms and legs and was taken to Regions Hospital as
a precaution.

”He was moving and it sounds like he’s OK,” Anderson said.
”You’ve got to find a way to pick him up. It was our job and our
duty to win the game for him.”

Kevin Porter, Milan Hejduk, Tomas Fleischmann and Ryan Wilson
scored for Colorado.

Andrew Brunette scored for Minnesota.

Colorado extended its lead to 3-0 in the second when Fleischmann
flicked a shot toward the net from the blue line and the puck
bounced between rookie goalie Anton Khudobin’s legs. Khudobin was
playing because Niklas Backstrom and Jose Theodore, Minnesota’s top
two goalies, are out with lower-body injuries.

”One goal, but sometimes the goalie has to shut the door.
That’s the way it works sometimes,” Khudobin said.

Once formidable at home, the Wild were booed by the hometown
fans after the second period. They are 3-6-1 in their last 10 home
games.

The Wild’s lone goal came early in the third when Mikko Koivu’s
spin-o-rama pass from behind the net set up Brunette for an easy
goal.

”It’s not because of lack of effort or caring,” Wild coach
Todd Richards said. ”We created chances and that’s what you want
to do. We need either that extra effort to finish or we need a
fortuitous bounce.”

Colorado winger Chris Stewart played his first game since
injuring his hand fighting the Wild’s Kyle Brodziak on Nov. 27.
Stewart was Colorado’s leading scorer when he was injured.

Cody McLeod also returned after missing the last eight games
with a groin injury.

Avalanche coach Joe Sacco was glad to have both guys back, but
talked after the game about his team’s focus after O’Reilly went
down.

”What I tried to right after that happened and he went off was
just tell the guys that he was going to be fine and make sure that
we stayed strong within the game,” Sacco said. ”Sometimes you
tend to drift a little bit when you see a teammate go off like
that. It’s just human nature.”

Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck talked some trash after Minnesota
beat the Avalanche on Dec. 23, leaving some to speculate that
Colorado players could seek revenge on Friday.

There was a minor scuffle 27 seconds into the game, but no
further incidents.

Porter and Hejduck scored in the first period. Wilson added an
empty-netter late in the third.

After a brief goal-scoring outburst last week, The Wild’s
scoring woes have returned. Minnesota has scored just one goal in
three straight games.

”We’re just not scoring goals,” Wild defenseman John Madden
said. ”We hit three goalposts in the first period I think and
pucks are going just wide, so we’re not getting any bounces. You
can’t score one goal a game and expect to win.”

NOTES: Wild coach Todd Richards didn’t know if Theodore would be
ready for Sunday’s game against Vancouver. Backstrom skated in the
morning and could be ready by Tuesday. … The Wild recalled D
Jared Spurgeon before the game and assigned F Patrick O’Sullivan to
Houston of the AHL. The Wild also recalled Matt Hackett to back up
Khudobin. … The Avalanche placed winger Greg Mauldin on waivers
to make room for Stewart. … Hejduk’s goal was Colorado’s first in
its last 29 power plays. … Wild D Marco Scandella left the game
in the third and didn’t return after getting hit in the head with
the puck.