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NHL

Wild, Maple Leafs force Game 7s

©Associated Press

April 22, 2003


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Wild sure isn't playing like a 3-year-old team making its postseason debut.

Richard Park scored his second goal of the game 4:22 into overtime Monday night to give Minnesota a 3-2 victory over Colorado and force a decisive Game 7.

"We've accomplished something so far, and we don't want to let up," said Marian Gaborik, who put Minnesota ahead 2-0 midway through the third period.

"We want to go back strong and try to play the best game we've ever played."

The Wild has won two straight on the brink of elimination.

The teams play tonight in Denver, with the winner moving on to the second round to face either St. Louis or Vancouver. The Blues and Canucks also play Game 7 tonight.

Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire, anxious to get his team to Colorado, cracked one-liners throughout his postgame news conference.

"We could've taken our time, but we've got a game tomorrow," Lemaire said. "If we would've lost, we could've gone until 1 a.m."

His team has been one of the biggest surprises this season, and Lemaire was asked if a Wild win in Game 7 should shock anybody.

"We'll wait until tomorrow -- we'll get the shock after," he said to a room filled with laughter.

Of the 193 teams in NHL history that have trailed a series 3-1, seven have come back to win two games on the road.

"We're going to be in our barn," Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy said, "and there's no reason for us not to be confident."

After trailing 2-0 late in the third period, Colorado looked like the favorite for overtime after goals from Joe Sakic and Greg de Vries against Manny Fernandez in the final 31/2 minutes.

But the Avalanche didn't get a shot off in the extra period and now faces a Game 7 for the fifth straight series, dating to the 2001 Stanley Cup final.

"We had a great feeling going into overtime," coach Tony Granato said. "We had all the momentum."

But the Wild remained confident, especially with an 8-1-10 regular-season record in the extra period. Park's bad-angle wrist shot slid underneath Roy's glove to send the 19,350 -- another overflow sellout -- into a frenzy.

"Everybody got chills," Gaborik said.

MAPLE LEAFS 2, FLYERS 1 (2 OT): Toronto won't be celebrating its Game 6 survival for long.

Travis Green scored 10:51 into the second overtime as the host Maple Leafs forced a decisive Game 7.

The teams have played seven overtime periods during the first six games but will have to recover in a hurry because Game 7 is tonight in Philadelphia. Not since the 1950 Stanley Cup final have Games 6 and 7 of a series been played on consecutive nights.

"We live to play another game," Green said. "It was quite a relief when the puck went in."

Green backhanded a shot over goalie Roman Cechmanek after Darcy Tucker's rebound landed in front of the net.

All three games played in Toronto in this series were decided in overtime.

"We had an opportunity. We didn't capitalize and it's disappointing, but we have to quickly regroup," Philadelphia captain Keith Primeau said. "It's going to be a huge challenge for both teams to quickly replenish and get recharged, but because of what's at stake, I don't think it will be hard."

Jeremy Roenick scored for the Flyers, who have lost in the first round four of the past five years. Roenick said the Flyers will have the edge tonight.

"It's a big bonus for us to be playing in our building with our fans," he said. "It's a one-game series now. There's no time to rest."

Ed Belfour stopped 35 shots for Toronto.

SHARKS: Teemu Selanne, the team's leading scorer, became a free agent, deciding not to exercise a player option in his contract for next season.

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