Eleven years ago, we were in Vancouver for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Wild and Canucks -- part of Star Tribune team coverage after the Wild stunned the Avalanche in seven games in the opening round.
Minnesota took a 3-2 lead deep into that game, only to surrender the tying goal with less than 2 seconds remaining. We can still picture colleague Chip Scoggins firing his pen clear across the press box in frustration over what it meant to our deadlines.
The Wild went on to lose the game 4-3, and most of us thought it was a death blow. How do you come back from nearly stealing Game 1 on the road to taking a gut punch like that?
Well, 11 years ago the answer was this: reamin composed and win Game 2. Remain resilient and eventually win the series in seven games.
It helped, of course, that Vancouver had Dan Cloutier in net. Minnesota scored 16 goals in the final three games of the series, aided by the struggling Canucks netminder.
This year's Avalanche goalie, Semyon Varlamov, is no Cloutier. But he did exhibit some Cloutier-like tendencies in Game 1 last night -- an eerily similar gut punch to the one Minnesota took 11 years ago in Vancouver, with the Avs tying the game in the waning seconds before winning in OT. How does the Wild respond this time around? The same way it did back then.
Game 2 becomes critical. Resiliency becomes the name of the game. Minnesota needs to somehow look past the disappointment of how things transpired Thursday and see the game for what it was: eliminate one mistake (either Jared Spurgeon or Kyle Brodziak's failed clears, which led to third-period goals); get one bounce to go their way (an extra couple of feet on the empty-net attempt or a half-inch toward the inside of the post on Jason Pominville's OT clank); get one huge save (Ilya Bryzgalov sure looked like he had robbed that goal late in regulation before the lamp went on) ... and the game was theirs.
If the Wild can turn those woulda coulda shouldas into positives, and realize that with a duplicated effort Game 2 is available for the taking, this can be a series.